The impact of Covid-19 on the supply of prescribed paracetamol has forced pharmacy to put rationing in place to manage stock.
Whanganui Regional Health Network pharmacist Des Healy said there had been a lot of public angst over medicine shortages but the message from pharmacists was "there are adequate supplies for everyone but this will mean collecting more frequently from your pharmacy".
Barbara Hawkins-Falk at Gonville Community Pharmacy said, over the past two to three months, they had been rationing out medication as Pharmac shifted from three-month dispensing to one-month.
This changed on Saturday when most medicines dispensed reverted to being dispensed in three-monthly lots, but several medicines will not.
Hawkins-Falk said some people who were on prescribed paracetamol were having to come in more than once a month as the pharmacy was still having to ration their supply to try to manage stock.
She said the shortage was down to manufacturing issues and also supply chain transport issues as many medicines were imported.
"Just because we're slightly less stressed over Covid-19-related things, the rest of the world isn't and it still does have an impact on us."
Hawkins-Falk said the only positive thing to come from rationing is it had stopped the panic buying that happened in the days leading up to the alert level 4 lockdown.
"We're the meat in the sandwich and most people are understanding but, every so often, you get abused," she said.
And Cameron McNaught from Central City Pharmacy agrees.
"We're not asking for much at all. It's just an understanding, really and most customers are really good when you explain to them about the monthly supply," he said.
"We were getting scripts in and we didn't have any paracetamol to supply at the time so we were just trying to prioritise people who needed it most if they were on regular paracetamol for on-going chronic pain. We were trying to make sure those people got it."
Hawkins-Falk said over-the-counter paracetamol was not experiencing as much of shortage as paracetamol that was prescribed, but she said it depended on where it was made and what specific brand it was.
"On the whole, the pharmacists are having to manage what stock we have and we've been given guidelines by the health department on how to do that but it's very much, if we've got the stock, we can give you this amount but it won't be the full supply and you will have to come back."
Paracetamol is not the only medicine affected, with some oral contraceptives in short supply.
Hawkins-Falk said people did not need to panic as there had been an alternative brought in for one of the contraceptives and they were now being dispensed in three-monthly lots instead of six.
"New Zealanders have prided themselves on the 'team of 5 million' approach and this is just another example of us all pulling together and doing the right thing to ensure there is enough for everyone," she said.
Hawkins-Falk said if anyone had concerns about the supply of their medication, they were welcome to come in or phone the pharmacy to discuss it. She encouraged those who did not want to go in every month to use the delivery system local pharmacies had set up.