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List of critical medications in short supply this holidays

After a year of nationwide drug shortages, Aussies will still have to go without a range of critical medications this holiday season.

Australians have been warned they could be forced to go without crucial medications this holiday season, including antibiotics and antidepressants.

According to the Department of Health and Aged Care Therapeutic Goods Administration there are currently 446 medicines impacted by shortages and discontinuations across the country.

Over 40 critical medicines are also unavailable for thousands of Australians well into next year, with shortages expected to last until early 2024.

Among the list of drugs affected are the common antibiotics ampicillin and rifadin and the antidepressant Tofrinal, used to treat severe and longer lasting depression.

ARX morphine, a medicine prescribed for daily pain relief, will also be in short supply alongside amifostine ethyol, a drug used to relieve radiation and chemotherapy symptoms.

Australians who take critical medications like amifostine have been offered “alternative unapproved products” under the Special Access Scheme.

“Generally all medications must be included in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) before they are supplied, imported, or exported to Australia,” the TGA says.

However when valuable medications are in short supply Australians can apply for individual access to an alternative product under the scheme.

Meanwhile the shortages have left many Aussies in a difficult position – especially as the holidays approach.

Kate Ritchie, from Brisbane, said she went to pick up her regular ADHD medication from the chemist when she learned they had run out.

“Imagine this … you’re told there is a nationwide shortage of your medication and you need to go back to the doctor and ask for a script that has less milligrams in it, because that’s what happened to me today,” she said in her video, which has amassed more than 170,000 views since October.

Ms Ritchie, who runs a jewellery business with her two siblings, said the shortage means she needs to take 20mg of Vyvanse, rather than her usual 30mg dose.

Other social media commenters confirmed they had also suffered from the widespread shortage and had been forced to contact the manufacturer, Japan-based pharmaceutical company Takeda, for emergency supplies of Vyvanse.

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According to the Therapeutic Goods Admission, there has been a shortage of Vyvanse 30mg and 50mg since early August due to “manufacturing issues”.

Its medicine shortage database notes there is currently limited availability of the non-critical drug with supplies to be impacted until 7 March, 2024.

TGA also reported a shortage of Vyvanse 20mg capsules earlier this month, but that issue has since been resolved.

Associate Professor John Kramer, chair of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners’s interest group on ADHD, told Medical Republic the shortage was frustrating for patients.

“It’s difficult for an adult to present, fearing the diagnosis and then wait six, nine, 12 months to see a psychiatrist,” Professor Kramer told the publication.

“This is just adding more delay and more frustration to the whole process.”

The TGA advised patients in need of a prescription to either contact the manufacturer for the emergency supply or apply for the alternative unregistered product.

It comes as hundreds of medicines have suffered from shortages this year due to manufacturing and supply chain issues, as well as increased demand.

Further medicines in short supply over the next year include:

• Vorcon voriconazole – a medication used to treat serious fungal and yeast infections: unavailable until June 30.

• Accuretic blister packs – to lower high blood pressure, hypertension: unavailable until April 30.

• Carbosorb XS activated charcoal – used for the treatment of poisoning and drug overdose: unavailable until January 31.

• Heparin sodium – to prevent the formation of blood clots, relieve pain and inflammation: unavailable until March 29.

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