220 medications discontinued in the past 18 months

Since the start of 2018, over 220 medications have been discontinued by the manufacturer and taken off the market for reasons other than safety, according to data compiled by the (TGA). In over half of the cases the impact to public health has been assessed as ‘medium’.

Matthew Bellgrove from National Custom Compounding said when safe and effective medications were taken off the market it often left patients facing real health challenges that were anything but ‘medium’.

“As a compounding pharmacy we hand-make a lot of medications for people when the commercial manufacturer discontinues production.” Matthew said, “There’s nothing wrong with the old drug – it’s still very effective –  the manufacturer has just decided to replace it with a new drug that they feel could treat a wider range of people, or perhaps is more profitable to make.”

Matthew said that people are often misled into thinking that if something is new it must be better – however this is not always the case.

“For people on long term treatment plans involving many medications, drug discontinuation can be very problematic and distressing. Drug-drug reactions can be a minefield to navigate and in many cases patients have developed a treatment plan that works well for them after many years of trial and error.

“It’s hard for doctors to tell these people, especially elderly people, that they have to start all over again with a new drug in the mix.”

In all cases of discontinuation the TGA has recommended an alternative medication to treat the target condition, however Matthew said many patients and doctors weren’t aware that a compounding pharmacist could also supply the discontinued medication.

“When a commercial medication has been discontinued by the manufacturer, compounding pharmacists are allowed, under the Pharmacy Guild’s regulations, to step in and manufacture that medication on a script-by-script basis,” Matthew said.

“We regularly do this for many patients and it allows them to continue on their working treatment plan uninterrupted. For many people, this is a huge relief.”

For more information on how a compounding pharmacist can help when a medication is discontinued contact Matthew Bellgrove at National Custom Compounding on 1300 731 755 or drop a line to [email protected].

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