Common sense outcome on MedsASSIST: PSA, SHPA

Pharmacy groups have applauded the Health Minister for supporting the continuation of real-time monitoring

On Thursday the Pharmacy Guild made a shock announcement that Health Minister Greg Hunt had intervened to keep MedsASSIST open until 1 February 2018, when the codeine containing medicines will be up-scheduled to prescription-only.

The program was scheduled to be discontinued from 10pm on Thursday, according to a Guild announcement the day before that was met with an outcry from pharmacists expressing their disappointment.

PSA has applauded Minister Hunt for supporting the continuation of the MedsASSIST program in Australia, congratulating him on a “common sense decision”.

The program is one of the many strategies required to help reduce the harm from misuse of combination analgesic codeine containing medicines, said PSA National President Joe Demarte in a statement.

“Pharmacists expressed concerns about the possible shutdown of this system which many pharmacists were using around Australia,” said Mr Demarte.

“This shows that pharmacists are strongly committed to addressing the issue of inappropriate use of codeine in Australia.”

The SHPA has also come out applauding the Minister, saying his intervention shows the value of a nationwide system of monitoring the dispensing of medicines to support patient safety.

‘While SHPA acknowledges limitations in the scope of MedsASSIST, we agree that the role it has played in the monitoring the supply of codeine-containing medicines is an important one, and unique in Australia,” said CEO of SHPA Kristin Michaels.

Mr Demarte said the PSA believes the urgent implementation of a national real-time recording and reporting system is needed, to allow for real-time monitoring of prescribing and dispensing of specific medicines.

“There is a need for real-time recording to be expanded to include all drugs of dependence,” he said.

The Pharmacy Guild is also continuing in its public advocacy for a broader mandatory national real-time monitoring system for drugs of addiction, said National President George Tambassis on Wednesday.

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