Hunt intervenes to hold off MedsASSIST shutdown

Greg Hunt has intervened in support of MedsASSIST, prompting the Guild to hold off its shutdown

MedsASSIST – the real time recording system developed by the Guild to help reduce the misuse of combination analgesic codeine containing medicines – was scheduled to be discontinued nationally from this evening, Thursday 30 March 2017.

Following yesterday’s announcement of the switch-off, Minister Hunt has expressed his strong support for continuing MedsASSIST, particularly in the period between now and 1 February 2018, when the codeine containing medicines will be up-scheduled to prescription-only.

Minister Hunt has made clear to the Guild’s leadership that he is committed to working in partnership with the Guild to keep MedsASSIST open until 1 February 2018.

In particular, Mr Hunt has committed to seeking urgent advice on the necessary steps to strengthen the regulatory underpinnings of the MedsASSIST system via discussions with the Department of Health, the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

In light of the Minister’s commitment and in good faith, the Guild will hold off the shutdown until this advice is received at which time it says it will assess with the Minister whether the necessary actions are able to be taken to allow this system to continue operating effectively until 1 February 2018.

In the meantime, the Guild says it encourages all pharmacies to continue using MedsASSIST as an important clinical tool to support patient safety. 

As a clinical decision support tool, MedsASSIST has a focus on patient care and patient pain management support pathways designed to help pharmacists identify patients who are at risk of codeine dependence, the Guild said in a statement today.

It facilitates access to suitable referral pathways to support patients to better manage their pain and enhance health outcomes.

Previous A painful transition
Next Quarter of people with diabetes don't want insulin

NOTICE: It can sometimes take awhile for comment submissions to go through, please be patient.


  1. David Haworth

    The Government showing more commonsense than the Guild should mean some red faces.

    • Philip Smith

      I say brilliant move by the Guild and shows the potential for future issues to be solved as a positive for pharmacy.
      Eg pull a product or service that ultimately will drive up hospitalisations looks to force the governments hand.

  2. Jim Tsaoucis

    Nhs provides some sort of monitoring of all meds to a point, however the private script segment has no checks and balances and MedsAssist platform would work if it was compulsory for ALL private scripts were put through this. Would help stamp out the likes of Oxycontin 80mg private scripts etc

  3. Toby

    If Mr Hunt thinks MedsAssist is so great, why is he allowing the TGA to pull the rug out from under real-time monitoring of all Codeine use? …by allowing the TGA to up-schedule all Codeine to non-real-time-monitored status, meaning by making it script-only, at which point definitely no further monitoring would occur? Is the Guild going to ask Mr Hunt the obvious question?

    • Ronky

      What makes you think that script-only medicines can’t be monitored? Scheduling is totally independent of whether the Guild, pharmacists or anyone else choose to have a system for monitoring sales.

      • PharmOwner

        Exactly. Even after combination codeine products go S4, there is a role and a need for a real time medication monitoring program. Not just for codeine. Benefits? Doctor and pharmacy shoppers would be immediately apparent. Safety net records always up to date and less safety net stockpiling. Hospitals can obtain complete medication histories without delay.

  4. Slim Jim

    So let’s summarise at this juncture:

    MedsASSIST, developed, funded and operated by the PGA and used voluntarily (remember, it is not mandatory as is Project STOP) by almost 70% of pharmacies was, along with other considerations and submissions, deemed insufficient reason to prevent the up-scheduling of codeine-combination products from POM (Schedule 3) to Prescription Medicine (Schedule 4) effective 1 Feb 2018.

    As there will be no further role or requirement for MedsASSIST after 31 Jan 2018, the developer (the PGA), faced with declining usage of its ‘freeware’ system, from a peak of 70% down to about 40-45% at the moment (according to a recent AJP poll) decided to “unplug” a soon to be redundant system. Nothing wrong with that logic.

    So why is the Guv’ment, in the form of a newly appointed Minister of Health suddenly onside with the current strategy? If the role and use of MedsASSIST is now eminently suitable and essential until 31 Jan 2018, why are the legal and privacy impediments (which were always known) at this late stage now being suddenly addressed with priority?

    Maybe they (the Guv’ment) are even going to cough up the “readies” to the PGA to keep it going until 31 Jan 2018?

    Talking about “monies owed”, what’s the latest on the 6CPA “risk sharing” dosh disbursement?

    Good to see the PGA acting like the AMA and other doctor advocacy and representative groups: very publically “wedge” pollies (on either side) into a corner… then they will respond to save their own skin, reputation and integrity (not that these attributes are a prerequisite for the job).

Leave a reply