‘Medicine safety is a priority for us all.’

Image: PSA

Health sector unites to turn the tide on medicine safety

Stakeholders from across various sectors attended a medicine safety forum convened in Canberra on Monday.

Held by the Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF), Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA), the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA), NPS MedicineWise and academic partners Monash University and University of Sydney, the forum challenged participants to ‘think differently’ on the safe use of medicines in Australia.

This included brainstorming on what success in improving medicine safety would look like in 10 years.

“Medicine safety is a priority for us all and we each have a role to play,” PSA National President Associate Professor Chris Freeman said.

“It was inspiring to see the sector work together today to proactively identify those measures we can cooperatively pursue to make a real difference and protect patients.”

Ideas that were highlighted on the topic of medicine safety on the day included:

    • Better use of existing funding
    • Leveraging digital health
    • Empowering consumers and the workforce

“Improving medicine safety is not just about spending more money, but also about being more strategic with the money that is spent,” Associate Professor Freeman said.

“Today there was deep discussion of the actions we can take to reduce harm from medicines. We will now take the feedback and ideas we received from participants and develop a suite of recommendations and work with relevant stakeholders to implement as a matter of urgency.”

Medicine safety and quality use of medicines was recently declared the 10th National Health Priority Area by Commonwealth and state and territory health ministers.

Leanne Wells, CEO of CHF, said: “Discussions often returned to how vital it is to have patients actively engaged in their health care decisions and informed about the medicines they are prescribed.

“Modern medication offers great benefits but the rate of hospital admissions caused by avoidable medication errors shows the importance of ensuring consumers are informed about their medicines, which is an integral part of broader quality use of medicines.”

SHPA Chief Executive Kristin Michaels said the forum represents “collaborative medicine leadership”, which she said is crucial to ensuring Australians gain the greatest possible benefit from medicine use.

“The successful combination of effective medicine, provided in an accessible manner with appropriate counselling and care from an expert workforce, will deliver the positive patient outcomes we all seek,” said Ms Michaels.

Meanwhile NPS MedicineWise CEO Steve Morris said: “We need to cherish the ethos of quality use of medicines. While Australia’s National Strategy for the Quality Use of Medicines requires an update, the principles of 20 years ago, including the primacy of consumers, is just as relevant today.”

The cost of medicine-related harm is significant, estimated at more than $1.4 billion each year.

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