Our People to Live Stronger & Longer

Global Bicillin LA (benzathine benzylpenicillin) shortage

We want to highlight an emerging shortage of long-acting benzathine benzylpenicillin, under brand name Bicillin LA. This is an important medication for our sector, particularly for syphilis and Rheumatic Heart Disease. It is also commonly used to treat chest and skin infections in many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Due to an unexpected increase in global consumer demand, there is limited availability in Australia. NACCHO is aware of a some stockouts/shortages that are already occurring. NACCHO is working closely with TGA and the supplier Pfizer to put measures in place to secure supply for the sector.  The shortage is anticipated to last until late Feb 2024.

For now, we are encouraging the following:

  • Please only order what is needed, wholesalers have been directed to supply no more than 1 month stock at a time
  • Consider prioritising the use of existing supplies only for specific or priority indications, e.g. RHD and syphilis
  • Refer to the TGA website for the most up to date information
  • Please contact pharmacy@naccho.org.au if you have any specific questions or concerns

If you need to access the alternative:

According to advice from the TGA, an international product has been approved for use in Australia under Section 19A.

  • Product: Benzylpenicillin benzathine 1.2 million I.U powder and solvent for suspension for injection (Brancaster Pharma, UK)
  • Approved until: 30 March 2024
  • Sponsor: ORSPEC Pharma 02 4339 4239
  • Please note: CONTAINS SOYA LECITHIN. This product should not be used in patients allergic to peanut or soya.

Unfortunately, this product is costing around $45 per vial (not box of 10 as per Bicillin LA). NACCHO has requested rapid PBS listing, but have been advised this is unlikely until February 2024. Preparation and administration advice is available from Orspec.

Further information:

NACCHO has reached out to suppliers of alternate treatments, to ensure availability of increased quantities and help prevent follow on shortages. For example, we have been advised that extra stock of Septrin liquid is now entering the Australian supply chain. We continue to talk with TGA and PBS to encourage rapid PBS listing of S19A overseas alternatives, to ensure ACCHOs and patients can continue to access appropriate antibiotics at acceptable prices.

We have developed clinician and patient information sheets on Antibiotic shortages with the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare that should be available by the end of the month.