COVID-19: Pharmacy

Information on medicine and supply issues and pharmacy licensing during the COVID-19 response.

Last updated: 28 September 2020

Pharmacies are staying open to the public through all COVID-19 Alert Levels as they are an essential service.

Your local pharmacist is available in your community to support your medicine supply and information needs. They are dispensing normally.

Medicine supply in communities has had some changes and restrictions resulting from COVID-19 this year. These restrictions were intended to minimise any impacts on supply caused by potential international supply and manufacturing disruptions.

However, medicines are sourced from several countries through international agreements, and our medicine supply is secure.

There is no need to stockpile medicines. Currently New Zealanders can still get the medicines they need.

Some restrictions still in place

The Pharmaceutical Management Agency of New Zealand (PHARMAC) works with the Ministry of Health (including Medsafe) and district health boards to provide affordable access to prescription medicines, and to promote the optimal use of medicines.

On 1 August PHARMAC returned most medicines to “all-at-once” dispensing. They monitor stockpiling behaviour and will amend dispensing rules if necessary.

However, some medicines are on monthly dispensing. Which medicines are on monthly dispensing will change as the fluctuations in the international supply chain affect different medicines. 

You can get updates on medicine and supply issues on the Pharmac website.

Be kind to pharmacists

Our pharmacists do an important job and are there to support your health.

It can be frightening not to get the medicines you need, but your pharmacist is an expert who can suggest alternatives if they’re needed in the short term.

If you are prescribed medicine, you should continue taking it as directed. Medicines help manage illnesses so they don’t become severe, and more serious treatment (eg, in hospital) is not needed.

One way to help pharmacists is – if you don’t need your prescription straight away – arrange for the prescription to be sent through to the pharmacy of your choice. Then make contact with them to arrange a convenient time to pick up your medicine or have it delivered.

This allows the pharmacy team to be available to spend time with you if you need it, and minimises numbers in pharmacies if you don’t.

Pharmacy licensing: Closure and relocation

Guidance for pharmacy operators.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) for Pharmacists

At Alert Level 1 pharmacists should source PPE through their normal suppliers. For further guidance on the use of PPE at other alert levels see PPE supply and distribution.

Allied Health

For further information and guidance for pharmacists and other allied health professionals see Advice for community allied health, scientific and technical providers.

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