The Federal Government will be working with the states to implement a system by end 2018, Health Minister tells PSA17

Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced the government will be moving “immediately” to a national real-time monitoring system for dangerous prescription drugs.

“We lose 600 Australians every year to prescription drug overdoses – it’s an utterly unacceptable outcome. The only acceptable target is zero lives lost,” said Minister Hunt.

“We will invest $16 million to establish a system to give you the certainty.

“Drugs such as morphine, oxycontin and so many others are fundamental to good health but which are dangerous if misused. They will now be subject to a system that will ensure that doctors and pharmacists have real-time advice.

“We want to have this rolled out by the end of 2018 but we start work immediately, and I want to thank and acknowledge some of the states that have been doing good work,” he told AJP.

Minister Hunt says the system will be synced with both pharmacist and GP software, providing an instant alert to pharmacists and doctors if patients have received multiple supplies of prescription-only medicines.

“There are two different front lines here – there’s the prescribers and the dispensers; the doctors and the pharmacists. And both need to be involved,” he says.

“Whether it’s the GPs or other relevant doctors, specialists, whether it’s the pharmacists or the hospitals, the drugs can be prescribed or dispensed in either location and our goal is very simple – to protect all Australians against abuse.”

PSA President Shane Jackson said the announcement was a great outcome.

“What this shows is what outcomes can be achieved if everyone has the same goals,” he said at PSA17.

The Pharmacy Guild, which has been long pushing for the national monitoring system, has welcomed the announcement.

“We strongly support the Minister’s announcement and pledge that the Guild will offer every assistance in the rolling out of a national system,” says Guild National President George Tambassis.

“We will work with government and other stakeholders including doctor groups and consumers to see an effective and smooth implementation,” he said.

“For too long, doctors and pharmacists have been expected to work at the front line tackling the prescription drug dependence issue without the full knowledge that real time recording can provide. The technology exists – it’s great that there is now real political momentum to see it implemented.”