Pain trial ‘a great move forward’


George Tambassis, Greg Hunt and Jarrod McMaugh at the Vermont South Amcal
George Tambassis, Greg Hunt and Jarrod McMaugh at the Vermont South Amcal

The $20 million Pain MedsCheck trial is about ensuring pharmacy is at the frontline of primary care, says Greg Hunt

Last week, the Health Minister announced a Pain MedsCheck trial, whereby pharmacists will evaluate a patient’s medicines, analgesic use and pain management program in a face-to-face consultation, to ensure it supports their clinical need.

He visited the Vermont South Amcal Pharmacy with part-owner, national Guild president George Tambassis, and Jarrod McMaugh, vice president of PSA Victoria, and declared the trial a “real breakthrough”.

“Pain matters to so many people,” he told reporters. “It can be chronic pain, and up to one in five Australians have chronic pain, and it’s critical that we give them the right advice, access to the right medicines, and also to protect them against addiction and any risks that come with that, because there can also be tremendous downsides if the right medicine isn’t taken or addiction is allowed to occur, as we’ve seen in the United States with an opioid crisis.”

He says the trial, which will run through all pharmacies, means that “our pharmacists will be available to work and to provide advice on the right type of over-the-counter medicine, or the management in conjunction with GPs, of prescription medicines for pain”.

“Many people will need advice,” he said.

“This is about ensuring that the pharmacy moves to a higher level, something that George and I, and both Jarrod and the Society more generally have been working towards, and that is the pharmacy as a critical part of frontline care, of primary care.”

Mr Tambassis pledged to help resolve patients’ issues under the plan.

“If there’s any issues in terms of misuse or dependence, we’ll resolve those. If the solution will be based on, let’s say a referring to a GP, we’ll refer that patient to a GP,” he said.

“We’ll make it as smooth as possible for patients to work out an action plan to resolve their pain issues, because we know chronic pain and acute pain is a serious issue in Australia, and we don’t want to go down the pathway of the opioid crisis that perhaps other countries are getting involved in.”

He encouraged consumers to talk to their pharmacist about Pain MedsCheck from 1 February.

Mr McMaugh said that “it’s great to have recognition of pharmacist’s expertise with medicines and how we can work together with patients and with GPs to help patients understand how the medication works, how their pain works, and what their expectations should be.

“I think this is a great move forward for pharmacy and for patients in Australia.”

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