Stockpiling fears as ‘happy pills’ in short supply with Australian pharmacists

Shortages of a common anti-depressant have resulted in fears of stockpiling as the medical regulator works with manufacturers to expedite shipments.

Jul 09, 2024, updated Jul 09, 2024
Some anti-depressive drugs are facing a supply shortage.. Image: Myriam Zilles/Unsplash

Some anti-depressive drugs are facing a supply shortage.. Image: Myriam Zilles/Unsplash

Duloxetine is used to treat major depressive disorder, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and cannot be stopped suddenly.

The shortages from multiple suppliers have been blamed on an increase in demand and manufacturing issues.

Expected supply dates range from mid-2024 to May 2025.

Shortages of some brands are only expected for a couple of months in the middle of this year while others date back to September and December 2023.

“Medicine shortages are not unique to Australia,” a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) spokesperson told AAP in a statement.

“They occur for many reasons and sometimes cannot be avoided – nevertheless, managing medicine supply is a priority for the Australian government and the TGA recognises the importance of reliable antidepressant supply.

“While we are not responsible for co-ordinating the supply of medicines, the TGA takes shortages very seriously and works closely with sponsors to help minimise the effects on patients.”

Patients should speak with their doctors about treatment options while supply is disrupted, the spokesperson said.

“The TGA is working with the sponsors of duloxetine products to facilitate equitable access and prevent stockpiling,” they added.

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Three pharmaceutical companies are working to expedite the next shipment of some of their products that had differing expected shortage dates, ranging from the end of July and the start of September, according to the TGA website.

Other companies are either controlling supply or have pointed to generic alternatives.

Canada has also listed the shortage.

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