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Concern for drug supply in public hospitals

29 September 2011 - 6:31pm

A series of authors from Australia's health sector have submitted an article to The Medical Journal of Australia, addressing the potential shortfall in necessary medication in public hospitals.

Led by doctor Simon Quilty, the team looked at the supply levels of essential medicines and found that distribution channels could severely disrupt the public sector.

Quilty outlines in the report: "Shortages of critical life-saving medicines are an increasing threat to public health."

Research into the matter was spurred on by the news that intravenous penicillin will not be available in Australian hospitals for the first time in six decades due to increased demand resulting from international disasters.

The news may inform the decisions of private health insurance patients choosing to be treated in a public or private hospital.

Australia is exposed to potential shortfalls as current reserve levels are sometimes only adequate enough to cover a single month - meaning that further distribution complications could cause very real problems in the health sector.

The report states: "Shortages in essential medicines occurring at a local hospital level are most commonly a result of international trade and manufacturing issues, as attested by recent shortages in heparin, propofol and injectable antibiotics."