Monitoring about to get real

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Real-time monitoring gets a budget boost

Pharmacy groups have welcomed a Victorian government budget commitment to fund a real-time prescription monitoring program.

The funding commitment of $30 million in this week’s 2016-17 State Budget would cover the implementation of a Real Time Prescription Monitoring (RTPM) system to help identify people at risk of harm who may currently visit multiple doctors and pharmacies seeking multiple quantities or doses of some prescription medicines.

Once implemented, the system will allow clinicians at 1900 GP clinics, 1300 pharmacies and 200 hospitals to do an on-the-spot check before prescribing or dispensing medicines that are at high risk of misuse, the Victorian Department of Health said in an announcement.

This is expected to reduce the number of people taken to emergency departments with overdoses by more than 500 per year, and see a further 700 people a year referred to counselling to try and beat their addiction.

The scheme will include Schedule 8 medicines such as morphine and oxycodone at a minimum, and the Government will consult with professional medical and pharmacy groups to determine the best way to include other high-risk medicines such as diazepam.

The Victorian branches of the PSA and Pharmacy Guild have issued a joint statement saying they believe a “RTPM system will save lives and identify those with prescription drug addiction earlier than currently possible”.

Along with the implementation of a RTPM system, the funding commitment includes offering much-needed additional counselling and addiction treatment services, as well as providing training and support for doctors and pharmacists to identify and help prescription drug misusers earlier”.

In 2015, 330 Victorians lost their lives due to prescription drug overdoses – 5 per cent more than the previous year. This is higher than the 217 overdose deaths from illicit drugs and the 252 people killed in road accidents.

Victorian Minister for health Jill Hennessy said: “With more Victorians dying every year from prescription drug overdoses than road accidents, we can’t afford to wait any longer to take action.”

“We have listened to the families who have experienced first-hand the tragedies of prescription medicine overdoses, and we’re getting on with delivering this life-saving initiative.”

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