MedsASSIST to be discontinued

The Pharmacy Guild’s real-time recording system will be disabled on Thursday night across Australia

MedsASSIST will be discontinued nationally from 10pm on Thursday 30 March 2017.

The decision was made following the Department of Health’s December decision to upschedule medicines containing codeine to S4 from 1 February 2018, which will “regrettably” render MedsASSIST obsolete, says the Guild.

Pharmacies across Australia should have been required by law to use the system in order to address dependency issues and identify risk factors regarding codeine supply, says the Guild in a statement.

“Unfortunately this could not be achieved despite advocacy by the Guild at all levels of government. It could never be fully effective while it remained voluntary,” it says.

And while the number of pharmacies voluntarily using MedsASSIST peaked at around 70%, this number has been declining since the decision was announced.

The Guild reminds pharmacists that after Thursday night, they will be required to follow the protocols and responsibilities surroundings S3 analgesics containing codeine in the same way they did before March 2016 when MedsASSIST was first rolled out.

Meanwhile Pharmacy Guild National President George Tambassis says the Guild remains concerned that upscheduling will disadvantage responsible users of codeine medicines and will not effectively address issues of addiction.

“As custodians of Australia’s medicines schedule, pharmacists will comply with the decision and ensure they are available to support and counsel patients, many of whom will be concerned that their safe access to these medicines without first having to see a doctor will no longer be possible,” says Mr Tambassis.

“At the same time, the Guild will continue to work with regulatory authorities at all levels of government to identify and seek to implement solutions that will maintain access to these medicines for acute, short-term pain, with appropriate safeguards and clinical protocols.”

The Guild will also continue in its public advocacy for a broader mandatory national real-time monitoring system for drugs of addiction, he adds.

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