Accessing supplies through pharmacies

Sometimes you go to your local pharmacy and order something in, and eventually get told it’s out of stock. This could be NDSS pump supplies, or maybe a particular insulin (e.g. Fiasp). But there is hope!


According to NDSS: “You can obtain all NDSS products through Access Points in all states and territories.”

Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to mean that you can access all products through all Access Points! Some of them don’t have access to all the pump supplies (some don’t seem to have much success with DANA supplies for example).

Pharmacy distributors

There are at least 4 wholesale distributors in Australia. Not all of them stock everything. Sometimes you might order something, and weeks later be told it’s still not in stock. But if you go to a different pharmacy sometimes you can have it next day.

The trick is to find a pharmacy that uses a different distributor (as they tend to have exclusive arrangements).

As consumers we shouldn’t have to know all this: ideally all pharmacies would have access to everything. But it’s not an ideal world.

The National Pharmaceutical Services Association (NPSA) represents some of the major pharmacy wholesalers:

  • Sigma (supplies Chemist Warehouse, Pharmasave, My Chemist, and many others)
  • NPD (supplies National Pharmacies)
  • API (supplies Priceline and Soul Pattison)
  • Symbion (supplies Terry White Chemmart and a few others)

I’m not sure if there are more, but that’s a reasonable spread. You can drill down from the NPSA site to the distributors’ websites and see which chains they supply. But sometimes you still just have to go and ask the pharmacist which supplier they use.

Find your local options

If your regular pharmacy is having trouble supplying your pharmaceutical or NDSS products, ask around.

My regular pharmacy is currently a My Chemist (who use Sigma) which is walking distance from my house. I also have a a Priceline Pharmacy (API) several hundred metres further away. In the next suburb there’s a Terry White Chemmart (Symbion). I don’t have any examples of a National Pharmacy (NPD) nearby, but with three distributors covered I haven’t had any trouble accessing supplies for a while.

Locality matters too

Just to complicate things, some of these distributors have multiple warehouses around the country, and stock levels can vary between them. This week I asked one supplier about Fiasp (which is new here and is still rolling out) and while they had none in Melbourne, there was some stock in country Victoria.

If a friend in another state (or a regional area) tells you that distributor X has no stock, that might not be true for your location. But if you have your short-list of pharmacies prepared, you can quickly check your local situation.

I do live in suburbia in a major city, so I probably have more options than people living in regional areas. But often there’s more than one option available if you look hard enough.

When I first started looking, it almost seemed that every local pharmacy I went into and asked used the same distributor. But by exploring the links from the above NPSA site I managed to quickly find some nearby options.

1 thought on “Accessing supplies through pharmacies”

  1. Andrew Bassett-Smith

    There’s also CH2 as another supplier

    And some chemists can access most, if not all of them – I spoke with one on Friday who can access all 4 bar NPD (or at least didnt mention them)

    Suburban Sydney – and no Fiasp across all 4 🙁 All are saying will have stock come June 18. Will call again then and get them to order some in

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