Pharmacies the Go-To for medicines and masks in bush fire affected areas

21 January 2020

 

NSW Health has arranged for pharmacies to issue certain medicines without prescription and distribute free face masks to assist communities hit by bushfires. 

The three-day supply of prescription medicines that can be issued in emergencies has been extended to allow community pharmacists to supply larger quantities of most prescription-only medicines to patients without a prescription. 

NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said those in a bushfire-affected area who don’t have access to their medicine or prescription, can call their GP and ask them to send a prescription to a nearby pharmacist. 

“If you can’t contact your GP, you can go to a local pharmacy to get an emergency supply of most medicines without a prescription. Only certain medicines, such as benzodiazepines and opioids, will still require a prescription,” Dr Chant said. 

“Communities can also be assured that pharmacists are continuing to supply most medicines to carers on behalf of a patient, including inhalers used to treat asthma.” 

These special arrangements for the emergency supply of medicines to patients in areas affected by the NSW bushfires are in place until 31 March 2020. 

NSW Health is also supplying free disposable P2/N95 face masks to communities via pharmacies in bushfire-affected local health districts. Community members are advised to ring ahead to ensure stock is available. 

Free face masks are also available in evacuation centres and health facilities. 

P2 masks are not suitable for everyone and not recommended for general use. People with pre-existing heart and lung conditions should consult their doctor before using P2 masks. 

Dr Chant said the masks can be useful for people who have to work outside in very smoky conditions, or when returning to bush fire affected properties. 

“For these masks to be effective, it’s important they are fitted according to the manufacturer’s instructions and form a tight seal around the face,” Dr Chant said. 

“The best way to protect yourself from bushfire smoke and poor air quality is to reduce your exposure by staying indoors with windows and doors closed, and to avoid outdoor exercise.” 

For more information and a full list of locations providing P2 masks, visit: health.nsw.gov.au/environment/factsheets/Pages/face-mask.aspx.