25 Jan 2023

Ibuprofen supply issues caused by sharp increase in demand - Pharmac

4:10 pm on 25 January 2023
No caption

Photo: RNZ /Dom Thomas

By Libby Kirkby-McLeod

Nationwide supply of liquid ibuprofen, most commonly used for pain relief in children, continues to be a problem throughout the country.

RNZ spoke to a parent in Waikato who said she could not get her child's ibuprofen prescription filled last week as there was no subsided ibuprofen available at their local pharmacy.

Her child needed it for pain relief after surgery so the woman was forced to buy a branded ibuprofen product, costing over $20, instead.

Pharmac chief medical officer Dr David Hughes said they are aware of the supply issue which has been a problem since 2021.

"As far as we are aware, the issue was caused by a sharp increase in demand domestically and delays in shipping, not due to international supply issues for similar medicines," Hughs said.

Fresh stock arrived in the country just before Christmas but took longer to go through quality assurance and dispatch due to the holiday period.

Some backorders were still outstanding but a large shipment - about 4 months' equivalent supply - arrived in the country this week, Hughs said.

This shipment was expected to be ready for dispatch by the end of the week and another shipment - nine months' equivalent - was due next week, he said.

It was expected the supplier would return to full capacity from this week onwards, he said.

"The supplier has doubled their ordering compared to last year to increase stockholdings and buffer against another big flu season.

"There is a further shipment due in May, which should mean that from this week there will be no further supply issues even if the increased demand continues."

  • Pharmac proposes funding spinal muscular atrophy drug risdiplam
  • Pharmac announces alternative drug for type 2 diabetics
  • Pharmac set to fund two sought-after lung cancer drugs, Keytruda and Tecentriq