Paracetamol 500 mg tablets in short supply at pharmacies

Media release Medicines COVID-19

PHARMAC has today updated health care professionals that paracetamol 500 mg tablets for dispensing in pharmacies are in short supply due to global supply issues caused by COVID-19, and work is underway to secure more stock.

“COVID-19 is impacting manufacturing and transportation around the world. The supplier is continuing to have stock issues due to decreased capacity at international manufacturing plants and difficulty obtaining flights out of India to transport stock,” says PHARMAC’s Chief Executive, Sarah Fitt. 

This week the supplier advised PHARMAC that expected shipments of paracetamol tablets have not arrived, and stock levels have dropped. Stock is likely to run out at the end of July in pharmacies.

Some patients may find their pharmacy is unable to immediately fill their prescription for paracetamol tablets.

“We are working with the supplier to do everything possible to source more paracetamol tablets but understand that this may cause difficulties for some people.”

Paracetamol is an important funded medicine in New Zealand with over 365 million funded tablets dispensed each year. In March, when PHARMAC was first advised of a potential supply issue due to the impact of COVID-19, a temporary dispensing limit was placed on the medicine.

This is the only funded brand of paracetamol tablets for supply on prescription in the community. This means it is the responsibility of the supplier to source alternatives, or to pay for the additional cost of an alternative brand  that PHARMAC sources.

The supply issue only relates to paracetamol 500 mg tablets prescribed by a health professional. We have no visibility of stock levels in the retail sector including in supermarkets.

PHARMAC will update the healthcare sector and public as soon as we have more information and keep our website up to date.