Here to help


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The rollout of SafeScript is highlighting the sheer number of Victorians at risk of harm from medicines of concern – and one program is offering to help

Earlier this month, the ABC reported that in its first month after being rolled out statewide, Victoria’s real time monitoring program had flagged 15,000 individuals who had been visiting multiple doctors or pharmacies.

The program also flagged another 13,000 people as taking “excessive doses or risky combinations of medicines,” reported the ABC’s Olivia Willis.

As at May 14, when this report was published, 11,000 GPs and pharmacies had registered for the program, which had been piloted in Western Victoria.

It will become mandatory from April 2020.

At the beginning of April 2019, when SafeScript began to roll out across Victoria, state Health Minister Jenny Mikakos announced that it had alerted health professionals at more than 400 sites across Western Victoria to around 4,500 patients at risk of harm of overdose from visiting multiple clinics or pharmacies.

The Medication Support and Recovery Service (MSRS), commissioned by the Eastern Melbourne PHN, is highlighting that patients identified as at risk by SafeScript need support.

However, they, their prescribers and pharmacists may not realise that such services can help.

“Medication misuse continues to be an emerging issue in the community with a growing body of evidence suggesting that it is not slowing down,” said Julius Ting, MSRS Project Manager.

“People should be aware of services such as the MSRS to help support their recovery journey.

“MSRS provides support and resources to pharmacists and dispensers in having difficult conversations with their patients.”

The community-based service helps people who identify as having problems with their use of prescription or over the counter medication.

The service helps people who want to reduce or come off current medications, but do not know how, or who to turn to.

The program was launched in 2017, and at the time an MSRS spokesperson told the AJP that Australia was still struggling to see reliance on medication as a health issue which needs treatment rather than punishment.

Pharmacists can suggest patients self-refer, or can refer them themselves by calling the intake number on 1800 931 101, or via the MSRS website, at www.msrs.org.au.

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