Medicine supply backlog

DRUG deliveries should be back on track for local pharmacies affected by the industrial action at Sigma Pharmaceuticals’ Rowville plant, which came to an end last week.

However, some pharmacies in the Latrobe Valley are still facing a backlog in supply, with one pharmacy sending a mass text message to customers urging them to put in their prescription orders early.

“We wish to advise you that due to industrial action by the biggest pharmaceutical company in Australia, supply of medication has been and will continue to be interrupted over the next couple of weeks,” the text message read.

“We advise that you shouldn’t wait until you are nearly out of medication before getting your prescriptions filled.”

Pharmacist and co-owner of Traralgon Guardian Pharmacy Helen Henning said for the past three weeks, supplies of prescription medication to the pharmacy had been disrupted, given Sigma was Guardian’s preferred wholesaler.

“We had alternative wholesalers we were able to use; but we still got our supply from Sigma as long as we got our orders in early,” Ms Henning said.

Ms Henning said there was a spike in customers from other pharmacies coming in due to the supply disruption.

“We had no issues with filling prescriptions; generally we made sure we ordered enough stock to get through the crisis,” she said.

“We were marginally affected during the strike, but that’s over now.”

Readers of The Express shared their experiences with the prescription medication delay on Facebook.

“My mum wasn’t able to get her diabetes tablets; they said they couldn’t get any from the supplier,” Amy Down said.

“When they came in stock again, they only came in a certain amount per box (which was the smaller amounts)…(my mother) had to go back to the doctor to get a new prescription for that amount, but I think aside from that it’s all back to normal now.”

Traralgon resident Halena Rodgers said she had waited for an hour for a prescription for her sick child last Saturday, only to be told they did not have the medication.

Some of the pharmacies contacted by The Express declined to comment, while Sigma Pharmaceuticals could not be reached at time of press.

Employees of Sigma’s Rowville plant took a month-long industrial action after a dispute with management about shift loadings.

Management had since agreed not to remove penalty rates on night shifts, according to reports.