Need for script monitoring post upschedule

packs of OTC codeine
Low-dose codeine preparations featuring obsolete S3 packaging.

A Dubbo pharmacist has called for real-time reporting of codeine dispensing in his local press, mirroring the Guild’s advocacy for a national system

There is a huge need for real-time monitoring to be put into place in the wake of the codeine upschedule, NSW pharmacist Greg Shearing has told Ben Walker of Dubbo’s Daily Liberal.

“The Pharmacy Guild, which advocates on behalf of pharmacy owners, has been very strong on wanting real-time monitoring in place,” Mr Shearing said.

“Without that, doctors are prescribing blind and pharmacists are dispensing blind as to what this person’s usage of codeine is.

“The system needed to be changed and there were some people falling through the cracks and they were accessing too much codeine,” Mr Shearing conceded.

“However with the moving of it to prescription-only the real-time monitoring has been removed, so now we have a situation where people can access these medications from their doctor without the doctor or pharmacist knowing how much the person has had.”

In July 2017, Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the Federal Government would be working “immediately” with the states to implement a national real-time monitoring system by the end of 2018.

“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.

On the announcement, Guild National President George Tambassis 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.”

However six months later, no word has been made on a national system – except for moves by Victoria to implement its own system (SafeScript) by the end of the year.

AJP has contacted the Department of Health following up its national real-time monitoring announcement, but so far has not received a response.

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