Methadone patients vilified: Guild


The ‘Methadone madness’ story run by a current affairs program was highly irresponsible, writes Anthony Tassone

This was an appalling piece trying desperately to parade as journalism which could only go downhill with an opening like:

“Another methadone user leaves the clinic after getting their fix”, “drugged up, now watch as he gets into a car and drives off. And, he’s not alone.”

After being contacted by a number of Guild members, employee pharmacists and even speaking with members of the public alarmed at the misinformation and aspersions cast in this story, I have written to the editorial team of “A Current Affair” and to ABC’s Media Watch expressing the deep concerns of this piece.

The piece ignores the advice contained in the AustRoads and National Roads Commission ‘Fitness for driving test 2016” guidelines where in section 9.2.3 “Opioid dependence” which reads:

“Opioid dependency includes patients taking opioid medication for chronic pain. People on stable doses of opioid analgesics for chronic pain management and people taking buprenorphine or methadone for their opioid dependency may not have a higher risk of a crash than the general population, providing the dose has been stabilised over some weeks and they are not abusing other impairing drugs.”

More information on this guide is available via: http://www.austroads.com.au

This disgraceful piece ignores official guidance, veers away from interviewing any health or medical expert and alarmingly and possibly deliberately uses the term ‘meth’ for convenience and further shock effect.

The potential consequences of such a story could be patients reluctant to seek treatment and further misinformation being peddled in the community for what has been proven to be an effective treatment for drug addiction and harm minimisation.

Any fatality is tragic and causes unexplainable grief to family and friends of those involved.

However, further stigmatising an already marginalised group of people in the community trying to seek treatment for a drug addiction concern and re-establish a normal life in society is not part of the solution.

If any response is received I will provide further update.

Anthony Tassone is the President, Pharmacy Guild of Australia (Victoria Branch).

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