How to avoid a ‘crisis’ in your stomach pain medicine cabinet
There is a shortage of antacid medicines in Australia, and the problem could get worse as the country recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
In Australia, about 30 per cent of adults are taking some form of medication for their stomach pain, and it is becoming a major concern for some of the country’s biggest hospitals, with many unable to provide the needed medications in the right dosage.
The problem is particularly acute for hospital systems like the Alfred hospital in Melbourne, where more than 80 per cent have had shortages in some form, or a shortage in some other category of medicine.
“Antacids are a big problem in the hospital system, especially for gastroenterologists,” Dr Steve Levesque, an obstetrician-gynecologist and head of the Alfred gastroenterology department, said.
“So for them, there is a real need for more antacids.”
Dr Levesquee said he had seen the problem escalate in recent months, and he feared that there could be a crisis at the hospital if there were no more antacid drugs to help ease the discomfort.
“If there is no supply, there’s a real danger of having patients in the emergency department with a serious condition,” he said.
Dr Levequee also fears the rise in demand for antacid drugs could lead to shortages in hospital pharmacies and pharmacy staff.
“There is a lot of uncertainty in the pharmacy, because they’ve got a shortage,” he told ABC News Breakfast.
“We’ve seen a lot more patients who haven’t been seen by pharmacy staff in a while because of this supply.”‘
We’re just waiting for an urgent call’The Australian Hospital and Health Service (AHS) has been in contact with the Victorian Government, and is urging doctors to consider prescribing more antibiotics to help relieve the pain.
“Our primary concern is for those patients who have had their antacide prescriptions cancelled and have not been able to get their medicines,” a spokeswoman for the hospital said.”[The] AHS is now providing free antibiotics for those who have not had their prescriptions cancelled, but are not able to find any.”
Dr John Hughes, a senior lecturer in paediatrics at the University of Sydney, said that for the first time, a significant number of paediatricians were recommending that children and adolescents get an antacare prescription.
“It’s a really big challenge, and for paediatric doctors it’s not something that’s really addressed by other healthcare providers,” he explained.
“The reason is that we’re just in a period of time when paediatric medicine is becoming more and more centralised in the healthcare system.”
A lot of paediatrics has become trained to prescribe antibiotics and they don’t necessarily know how to make the prescription as a paediatricist.
“I think a lot will need to be done in terms of increasing the number of pharmacists trained in this area, and increasing the pharmacists’ understanding of how to prescribe these medicines.”
Dr Hughes said that if a paediatrics professional were to prescribe an antibiotic, they would need to ask for a clinical history of the patient, including how they feel after taking it.
“This is really difficult for the pediatricians, because there’s no information about how to administer the medication to the patient,” he noted.
“When a paedophile has a child they have to understand the drug that they’re taking.”
They’ve got to ask the paediatrician if there’s anything that could cause them to be more vulnerable.
“Because of the nature of the drug, they’ve really got to be prepared for the possibility that the drug could cause harm.”
Dr Nicki O’Neil, a clinical professor at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and a paediatrist, said the shortage of medicines was concerning.
“What’s happening now is that people are just waiting on an urgent, urgent call,” she said.
The ABC’s Julia Hahn reports.