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Warfarin shortage

8 March 2023

You may be aware of reports of national warfarin shortages. 

The TGA has just published helpful information on the current situation including information for prescribers and consumers, and about emergency access. For more information, refer to about the warfarin shortage 2023.

Warfarin is an anticoagulant used to prevent blood from excessive clotting or forming harmful clots for people at risk of heart attack, stroke and other conditions. Warfarin is a high-risk medication with a narrow therapeutic window. 

People are prescribed warfarin for different reasons and some people are at extremely high risk of harm if there is any disruption to their medication. Any potential disruption should be anticipated and avoided wherever possible, or the impact mitigated. 

Note that: 

  • The 2 available brands of warfarin are not bioequivalent and should not be substituted or interchanged without medical supervision. 
  • Any change in a person’s warfarin medication may warrant heightened monitoring of their coagulation status. 
  • Consumers must be given clear information about any difference in their medication, such as if it looks different or involves a different number of tablets to attain the required dose. 
  • GPs need adequate warning to assess and make any necessary changes to a person’s prescription and/or treatment instructions. 
  • Omitting a dose for an individual due to lack of supply is not an acceptable practice unless this is done on clearly documented medical advice for that person. 

Providers can: 

  • Identify all consumers who are receiving prescribed warfarin, their actual preparations, doses and current supply. 
  • For residents in aged care homes, contact the facility supply pharmacy to understand the current supply status for your service. 
  • For home services consumers, encourage them to contact their GP or regular pharmacist for advice. 
  • Contact treating GPs to seek review of preparations and doses, and medication charts where this might be required. Ensure that they are aware of the information from TGA for health professionals. 
  • Discuss the shortage with consumers who are affected and bring to their attention information for consumers in the TGA link. 
  • Understand the process for emergency access detailed in the TGA link. 

To subscribe to TGA alerts, follow the link here.

Dr Melanie Wroth MB BS, FRACP

Chief Clinical Advisor

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