Pharmac is working hard to ensure ongoing supply of a critical medicine used to treat RSV, following the outbreak of the respiratory virus in our communities.
“Prednisolone is a steroid medication used to treat multiple conditions, including RSV,” says Pharmac’s director of operations Lisa Williams. “In the last month there has been a significant increase in the use of the oral liquid form, which is generally used by children, as a result of the RSV outbreak”.
The average monthly demand for prednisolone oral liquid over the last 12 months has been around 8,500 bottles, but during June, the number of bottles ordered by our community and hospital pharmacies almost doubled to 15,500, sending New Zealand’s supply of the medicine critically low.
Children hospitalised with RSV would not be impacted by any shortage because they have access to alternative treatments, but for children in the community with RSV, there was concern their pharmacies would not be able to access the medicine.
“Knowing the importance of our children being able to get prednisolone oral liquid to help them fight RSV, we worked with our supplier to ensure the stock we were already expecting into New Zealand could be accessed quickly,” says Ms Williams. “We also sought and received critical support from MFAT, Customs and the Port of Auckland to ensure this medicine would be available in pharmacies as soon as possible. Stock was released to wholesalers on Thursday last week and was available to pharmacies to order from Friday.
“We know pharmacies may go through this new stock quickly too, so Pharmac is working with the supplier to airfreight the next order to New Zealand before the end of this month. The supplier has also increased the amount being brought in monthly, so we have enough of this medicine, now and in the future.
“We are doing our bit to safeguard the supply of medicines we fund for all New Zealanders,” says Ms Williams.