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Pharmacists ‘must be protected’ against unnecessary exposure

By Irish Pharmacist - 26th Mar 2020

The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has stated that in order to ensure that pharmacies can continue to provide services as this illness spreads, pharmacy staff must be protected from unnecessary exposure to Covid-19. Therefore, it has been emphasising the advice of the HSE to the general public that anyone who has been to an affected place recently or who has had contact with someone with the novel coronavirus and who is exhibiting fever, cough or other respiratory symptoms of Covid-19 should not attend at a pharmacy or GP clinic. 

Instead, they should stay at home and phone their GP or local emergency department without delay.
The IPU is encouraging people to have common non-prescription medications for cold, fever and allergies on hand. People who require medication on a regular basis should also ensure their prescriptions are up to date. “We do not recommend, however, stockpiling medications in large quantities,” said the Union.
“If and when there is a disruption in the supply of medications, pharmacists manage their stock carefully to ensure that all their patients can receive a quantity of the medication to meet their immediate needs. Unnecessary stockpiling of medication can create unintended shortages and puts other patients’ health at risk.
“… Many pharmacies may be able to offer a delivery service to help patients get their medications when they can’t leave their home.”

In a separate statement, the IPU has been communicating the message to the general public that medicine stocks remain adequate and has warned against panic-buying and stockpiling of medicine supplies.

Commenting, IPU Secretary General Mr Darragh O’Loughlin said: “We remain in close contact with public health officials and have reassured them that pharmacists and pharmacies are available to help and support the health service in any way we can, including the dissemination of information and advice to the public.”

He reiterated the warning that there is absolutely no need for the public to stockpile any medicines. “While pharmacies have experienced an understandable increase in demand… there are no supply shortages, stockpiling is completely unnecessary and, in fact, could itself trigger drug shortages,” he said. 

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