An expert in unsafe medicines practices is set to head up a new team working to address medication errors and adverse drug reactions
The Federal Government has announced that it is investing $55 million in the Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), which is also expected to enjoy at least $111 million in cash and $118 million in-kind funding from partners.
One of the CRC’s theme areas will be drug errors and ADRs, and Professor Libby Roughead, from the University of South Australia’s School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences.
Sixteen Australian universities are involved in the seven-year project, along with 40 commercial and government organisations in the health, care and disability sectors and a range of technology start-up companies.
Professor Roughead says there are an estimated 230,000 medication-related hospital admissions a year which are preventable.
“Adverse drug reactions result in 400,000 GP visits a year and are responsible for 30 per cent of emergency hospital admissions in the elderly,” Prof Roughead says.
“As many as two million people a year have problems with their medicines,” she says. “And if you walked into a hospital in Australia today, there is a 10% probability that you would experience an error in the way your medicines were given.”
Professor Roughead will collaborate with a range of experts spanning the health, internet technology, software and mathematical fields across Australia, including colleagues within UniSA’s Institute for Choice and the Advanced Computing Research Centre.
Consortium chair Professor Christine Bennett says digital health solutions have the potential to improve people’s health and wellbeing, reduce waste in the health system and build businesses and jobs in the rapidly growing digital health sector.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also listed patient safety as one of its key global challenges, in the wake of figures showing that medication errors cost the global healthcare system US$42 billion each year.
The CRC was launched by Liberal Senator for the ACT and Assistant Minister for Science, Jobs and Innovation Zed Seselja, who said that it “brings together industry and research partners across Australia’s health and wellness landscape in a collaborative approach to advancing health and medical technologies and pharmaceutical industries”.
“CRCs have a proven track record in delivering tangible benefits for industry. By linking industry expertise with our world-class research capability, CRCs generate new knowledge, solve problems and offer opportunities to commercialise new ideas,” he said.