20 March 2020

The Ministry of Health website remains the most up to date source of information about COVID-19. The information in this e-mail is based on the current situation at the time of sending.

Providing guidance on pharmacy-specific COVID-19 questions is our upmost priority. All issues being communicated by our members are being raised with DHBs, the Ministry of Health or other government agencies as appropriate.

Sector Collaboration - Pharmacy Service Provision during COVID-19 Pandemic

The document collaboratively developed by the Pharmaceutical Society, Pharmacy Guild and Green Cross Health that was sent yesterday has been updated. Version 2 adds information about the handling of prescriptions as follows:

Handling of prescriptions

If possible, ensure systems are in place for remote receipt of prescriptions by fax or secure email. Close liaison with your local medical centre may help to encourage this approach, identify other options to reduce paper prescriptions, and improve communication/collaborative working.


For asymptomatic people (excluding asymptomatic in isolation), continue as usual with physical distancing measures in the pharmacy.

Symptomatic or Asymptomatic but in isolation

If symptomatic/asymptomatic in isolation person presents to the pharmacy with a physical prescription, check urgency of prescription and where possible encourage to leave prescription and either return later or have medicine delivered.

Consider measures to reduce handling of physical prescriptions from these patients to avoid potential contamination. Ideas that have been shared across the sector include:

  • Set up a “drop box” of some kind for patients to leave the physical prescription
  • Wear rubber gloves and use tweezers to transfer prescriptions from box
  • Options for prescription containment include using clear plastic sleeve/bag or photocopy/scan and print to create a clean paper version – this will enable annotation
  • Consider a pharmacy staff member photographing the prescription and e-mailing to the pharmacy (remember to delete afterwards) – this option also enables annotation
  • Always retain the original prescriptions – keep aside in separate plastic file

There may be other options. Please keep sharing your ideas - the document will be updated.

If contact has been unavoidable, maintain attention to basic hygiene measures including hand-washing and avoidance of touching your face (mouth, nose, eyes).

Medicines Information related to COVID-19

The Christchurch Medicines Information Service have set up a section on their website to provide information to assist health professionals in New Zealand respond to questions/concerns from the public about medicines and COVID-19. This useful resource will be continually updated.


Manager Practice and Policy: Chris Jay
Professional Practice Pharmacist: Chloë Campbell