Meeting the target

Extension granted to allow time to recruit more patients as slow uptake hampers beginning of Chronic Pain MedsCheck trial

The Department of Health has granted an additional two months of time to allow for the recruiting of a suitable number of pharmacy patients qualified to participate in the Chronic Pain MedsCheck trial.

In an alert to participating pharmacies, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, which is administering the trial, said “we are excited to announce that patient recruitment has been extended to 30 November 2019”.

“This additional two months will allow you to recruit and conduct the initial services for the Chronic Pain MedsCheck Trial until 30 November 2019. Patient follow up services will need to be completed 3 months later by 29 February 2020.

We encourage you and your team to make the most of this extension and recruit and conduct initial services until 30 November 2019,” the Guild alert said.

Slower than expected levels of patient recruitment had hampered the beginning of the trial, as shown by recently released Department of Health responses to Senate Estimates questions.

During the 2018/19 Senate Estimates hearings, Senator Stirling Griff (Centre Alliance, SA) had asked whether “the trial [was] on track to recruit the minimum required number of patients overall?”

In a response supplied only at the end of July 2019, the Department said “the trial was behind in its recruitment of the required number of patients. Measures were put in place to support recruitment activities, including communications to participating pharmacies and provision of additional trial resources.

Other strategies for increasing patient recruitment were identified to be put in place should there be a
shortfall in patient numbers”.

The Department also revealed that, as of 3 July 2019, there were 1,645 pharmacies signed up to participate in the trial, and 3,865 patients recruited to participate in the trial.

It is now believed that there are around 6000 patients currently recruited to the trial. 

The trial has faced staunch criticism from GP groups, with some doctors saying it would “waste taxpayer money”. 

In answer to another question from Senator Griff, the Department of Health said the total funding allocated to the Chronic Pain MedsCheck trial was “up to $21,149,919.61 (GST exclusive) over three years, from 2017-18 and includes funding for training and education activities”. 

Of this, $20,649,919.61 was allocated to the Guild, including up to $1,174,025.00 for services provided by
Health Consult including the cost of obtaining approval from the ethics committee.

Another $500,000 was allocated to the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia for training purposes. 


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