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The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is aware of current shortages of some antibiotics in Australia, including amoxicillin, cefalexin and metronidazole. We recognise the importance of antibiotics in treating patients and are facilitating supply of alternative medicines as a priority.
Most of the shortages are caused by manufacturing issues or an unexpected increase in demand.
We publish up-to-date information on these shortages, including predicted return to supply dates, in our medicine shortage reports database. You can sort the database by clicking on 'Therapeutic class' and scrolling down to 'General anti-infectives for systemic use' to see the list of antibiotics currently in shortage.
What if I can’t get my antibiotic?
Importantly, many of these medicines have alternatives available. Your pharmacist may be able to give you a different brand, or your doctor can prescribe a different strength or medicine with similar spectrum of activity. Where suitable Australian-registered alternatives are not available, the TGA has taken action to approve overseas-registered alternatives under s19A of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989.
If you are unable to fill your antibiotic prescription, you should speak to your pharmacist or doctor as soon as possible about alternatives for your situation.
To assist with the shortage of oral amoxicillin and cefalexin products, the TGA has made two Serious Scarcity Substitution Instruments (SSSIs). Each SSSI allows a pharmacist to dispense a substitute product containing the same active ingredient to a patient when the prescribed product is unavailable, without prior approval from the prescriber, under certain conditions. If the amoxicillin product you were prescribed is unavailable, the pharmacist may give you a different strength or form of amoxicillin. Similarly, for cefalexin, if the cefalexin product you have been prescribed is unavailable, the pharmacist may give you a different strength or form of cefalexin. More information about these SSSI is available on our Substitution allowed to address shortage of amoxicillin and Substitution allowed to address shortage of cefalexin pages.
There are alternative Australian-registered products for the following antibiotics that have shortages:
- Amikacin injection
- Amoxicillin capsules and tablets
- Azithromycin injection and tablets
- Cefaclor tablets
- Cefalexin capsules
- Clindamycin injection and capsules
- Doxycycline capsules
- Flucloxacillin capsules
Moxifloxacin injection and tablets
- Nitrofurantoin capsules
- Procaine benzylpenicillin syringe
- Rifampicin capsules
- Cefotaxime injection.
Overseas-registered alternative products have been approved for the following antibiotics in shortage:
- Amoxicillin capsules and suspension
- Amoxicillin/Clavulanic acid tablets and suspension
- Flucloxacillin oral solution
- Metronidazole tablets and suspension
- Phenoxymethylpenicillin tablets
- Sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim injection and tablets
- Trimethoprim tablets.
Your pharmacist can ask about ordering these for you by contacting the approval holder listed in the section 19A approvals database. More information about medicine shortages can be found on our website.