National monitoring system on horizon

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Health Minister Greg Hunt is expected to announce additional funding to get a national real-time recording system for drugs of dependence up and running by Christmas

Media reports have revealed the Health Minister has gone to bat for the Electronic Recording and Reporting of Controlled Drugs (ERRCD).

Minister Hunt told News Ltd he wants additional money for the electronic prescription system “within the next six months” to assist the nationwide rollout.

“I look forward to ensuring the electronic prescription system … is acted on in my first six months,” says Minister Hunt.

In the lead-up to next month’s Budget, health bodies including the Pharmacy Guild, and PSA are ramping up pressure on the government to support the full implementation of a national real-time monitoring system.

“PSA urgently calls on the Federal Government to implement a national real-time recording and reporting system for real-time monitoring of prescribing and dispensing of medicines to address the increase of harm from the inappropriate use of prescription and over the counter (OTC) medicines,” says PSA National President Joe Demarte.

“There is an urgent need for real-time recording to be expanded to include all drugs of dependence in Australia – the time to act is now.”

“In Australia, drug overdose fatalities regularly exceed motor vehicle fatalities, with legal prescription medicines – rather than illicit substances – comprising the overwhelming majority of these fatalities,” says Pharmacy Guild Executive Director David Quilty.

“Coroners around the country have called for the introduction of a real-time recording system for controlled drugs, and the Pharmacy Guild strongly supports such a system.

“While the States and Territories have made varying degrees of headway in introducing real-time electronic monitoring systems, decisive action is required to achieve a national system,” says Mr Quilty.

“We know that the Federal Government and the new Health Minister are keen to make this happen, and the Guild stands ready to assist in the implementation of such a national system.”

“Abuse of prescription drugs remains a major public health concern that needs to be addressed,” says Shadow Minister for Health, Catherine King.

“I don’t want to see doctor-shopping and stockpiling because the federal government hasn’t got their act together and shown national leadership on getting a monitoring system in place.”

ScriptWise is also calling for the adoption of a mandatory national real-time prescription monitoring (RTPM) system, arguing it is “the only way to curb ‘doctor shopping’ and help curtail unnecessary deaths from prescription medication related overdose”.

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