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Australia Coronavirus sees pharmacies run out of critical medication, endangering the lives of people with chronic illnesses

08:50  24 march  2020
08:50  24 march  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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Coronavirus can affect anyone, but people with pre-existing health problems and older people are thought to be at greater risk of developing severe symptoms. The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu

I have a chronic medical condition that puts me at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 As much as possible, limit contact with people outside your family. Maintain enough distance (six Shortness of breath refers to unexpectedly feeling out of breath, or winded. But when should you

a man taking a bite out of a window: Linny Carney and daughter Taylor are running out of asthma medication. (Supplied: Linny Carney) © Provided by ABC NEWS Linny Carney and daughter Taylor are running out of asthma medication. (Supplied: Linny Carney) It has been an anxious week for Linny Carney and her nine-year-old daughter Taylor, who both suffer from asthma.

They haven't been able to get vital medicine from any of the pharmacies in Lismore in north-eastern New South Wales.

Because they both already have a respiratory illness, they are at greater risk if they contract coronavirus.

"I'm happy to stay at home so I don't get any germs," Ms Carney told 7.30.

"Each time I go out, that's a potential death sentence for me."

She needs a range of medications, including Ventolin.

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Pharmacists plead with the public to STOP stockpiling medication after seeing a four-fold spike in prescription orders amid coronavirus panic. Desperate shoppers all over the UK are hunting for paracetamol with supermarkets and chemists facing running out of the painkiller by this weekend.

The coronavirus , officially called Sars-CoV-2, can invade your body when you breathe it in (after someone coughs nearby) or you touch a contaminated surface and then your face. Covid-19 is a mild infection for eight out of 10 people who get it and the core symptoms are a fever and a cough.

"I'm feeling quite nervous," Ms Carney said.

"I have lung function of 38 per cent.

"With the Ventolin — the pharmacist told me he had none and he rang around, and we've got nine chemists in Lismore, and all gone.

"I just don't know what's around the corner for us.

"On a bad week I can go through a Ventolin in 5 days."

Panic, fear, stockpiling, misinformation

Concern about COVID-19 has seen hoarding move beyond toilet paper and hand sanitiser to medications.

Pharmacist Caroline Diamantis is struggling to stock some essential supplies and medicines. © (ABC News: Jerry Rickard) Pharmacist Caroline Diamantis is struggling to stock some essential supplies and medicines. For Caroline Diamantis, who owns the Balmain Community Pharmacy in Sydney's inner west, it is unprecedented.

"I've been a pharmacist for 32 years and I've never seen anything like this in terms of the panic and fear that we are seeing, the stockpiling and misinformation," she told 7.30.

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Coronaviruses also cause flu-like symptoms: Patients might start out with a fever and cough that progresses to pneumonia or worse. Coronaviruses can also cause problems in other systems of the body, due to the hyperactive immune response we mentioned earlier.

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates. 4. Pharmacies are running critically low of key drugs including paracetamolCredit "Whilst we are continuing to try and secure more stock from suppliers there are lines which are now out of stock or with very low forward weeks

"We can't get thermometers, we can't get Panadol, and then we can't get things like Ventolin.

"People decided they should have one (Ventolin) up their sleeve in case they get the virus, then they would be able to breathe better.

"This is misinformation and it has caused such a problem."

A matter of survival

Kristie Archer's two children, Eden, 12, and Bodie, 15, both have type 1 diabetes.

Daily medication is essential.

"If we didn't have the medication they wouldn't be able to survive," Ms Archer told 7.30.

"That's because their pancreas doesn't work, so this is doing the job of their pancreas."

But for the first time ever, Ms Archer has been unable to get one of the medications which both children need.

"The pharmacist came out very apologetic but said they had no stock of NovoRapid and they did not know when the new stock would be coming in," she said.

Ms Archer says families in the diabetic community across Australia have been reporting similar experiences, with some told it may be weeks before pharmacies receive stock.

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Reported illnesses have ranged from people with mild symptoms to people being severely ill and dying. In some patients - particularly the elderly and others with other chronic health conditions - these symptoms can develop into pneumonia, with chest tightness, chest pain, and shortness of breath.

Regular use of the medication is intended to stop HIV progressing to AIDS, which is fatal, and may also reduce the risk of people transmitting the infection to others. A coronavirus is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people .

"The advice we're being given is that there is no shortage, they're saying there is stock, please do not stock up," she said.

"But that wasn't what I was doing, I was genuinely out.

"I've never had a problem before."

No shortage — just a delay: Medicines Australia

The Federal Government has introduced restrictions to try to control stockpiling by consumers.

It has placed limits on the dispensing and sales of certain medications, including items such as Ventolin. And children's Panadol is being held behind the counter.

Medicines Australia represents manufacturers and suppliers of medications.

Its CEO Elizabeth de Somer insists there is not a shortage, just a delay.

"There is extreme pressure when the consumer base and behaviour is to over-demand medicines," she told 7.30.

"That leads to a flow-on effect through the supply chain to try and keep filling the orders as quickly as they are being demanded.

"Manufacturers have increased production and manufacturing of supplies. They have brought orders forward, they have increased their orders from overseas manufacturers, and those supplies and those orders are being met."

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Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus . Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.

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Medicines Australia says there are adequate supplies of medication in the country, but won't say how long that is expected to last.

John Blackburn, from the not-for-profit research group The Institute for Integrated Economic Research Australia, warns that when it comes to medication, Australia is vulnerable at a time of global crisis.

"We have to have a very close look at our import dependencies and say, are we resilient enough?" he told 7.30.

"Because if we import 90 per cent of our medicine, we have very little control over that should they get interrupted."

'If you don't need them, please stop'

In the last 24 hours Ms Carney has managed to buy a single Ventolin inhaler, but her stocks, as well as her spirits, have been boosted by an anonymous act of kindness.

Someone left another packet in her letter box.

"Thanks very much, I'm feeling the love," she said.

But she is not out of danger and welcomes the steps to control panic buying.

She has a message for those continuing to stockpile asthma medicines.

"If you don't have a lung condition, if you don't need them, please stop," she said.

"Because you are actually endangering lives."

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