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Pharmacists cop abuse and death threats amid coronavirus pandemic

Pharmacists cop abuse and death threats amid coronavirus pandemic

Pharmacists have faced assaults and death threats on frontlines as tensions rise over limits on prescription and over-the-counter medicines amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The limits, introduced last month, require pharmacists to limit dispensing prescription drugs to one months’ supply and non-prescription medicines such as paracetamol and anti-histamines to one unit per purchase.

Deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly urged Australians to not buy “more than you need” to avoid supply issues.

In an incident being investigated by police, a pharmacy assistant in the Victorian town of Torquay needed part of her ear glued back together after a customer threw a glass medicine bottle at her last week.

Pharmacist Fedele Cerra, who runs five pharmacies across the state, told Fairfax some of his staff were left traumatised after receiving death threats over toilet paper and medicine shortages.

David Morcos, account manager at the Family Pharmacy Granville in the Sydney suburb of Granville, said the business has had to call the police to deal with customers angry at the lack of hand sanitiser and toilet paper.

One customer who attempted to bulk buy children’s painkillers was asked to consider other children. He responded: “F**k the other kids.”

“Everyone has turned into an animal,” Morcos told The Guardian.

The Pharmacy Guild’s Victorian president Anthony Tassone said while most people are “generally understanding and appreciative”, some continue to “display rude, abusive and unacceptable behaviour”.

Pharmacists have also been asked to keep their supplies of arthritis medicines safe amid increasing demand due to claims they could cure coronavirus-infected patients.