National real-time monitoring system announced

Health Minister Greg Hunt talks to the press at PSA17 on Friday 28 July.

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.”

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  1. vixeyv

    Good. I suspect this came about from the open letter the Guild penned about codeine exceptions.

    • Ronky

      No, this is about S8s and has been talked about for a long time.

  2. William

    It will be interesting to see how this turns out; government IT projects do not have a good history of “on time, within budget” and “fit for purpose” achievement.

    • jason northwood

      Yes William , the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement included an Electronic Recording and Reporting of Controlled Drugs initiative – and we’re now 1/2 way thru the 6th agreement.

  3. PharmOwner

    Long overdue. Let’s hope it’s not limited to Schedule 8 and includes S4’s with abuse potential such as benzos, pregabalin, amitriptyline, tramadol, zolpidem, quetiapine….

  4. Jerry

    As great as this ‘announcement’ sounds, considering a) the enormous number of stakeholders involved in the project, b) the fact that not one entity ‘owns’ the project, and c) the level of complexity in the proposed solution, I’d be surprised if it gets rolled out by the end of 2028 let alone 2018!

    • Ronky

      And you can add at least one zero to the $16 million if it’s going to be any more than a token figleaf which achieves nothing.

  5. Michael

    Two different front lines? I thought pharmacists couldn’t dispense these medications until they were prescribed. Seems like the “system” we plan to create doesn’t understand the system we already have.

  6. Philip Smith

    All the delays, budget blow outs, state implementation aside, I like this statement:

    “To protect all Australians from abuse.”

    I can see many doctors and pharmacist being abused for refusing supply.

    I can see an increase in break ins and hold ups to obtain supply.
    Pharmacist wages include danger money? 🙂

    Good idea though.

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