Real-time script monitoring laws pass Parliament

green light new law approval

The Victorian government has passed legislation to allow a mandatory prescription monitoring system to roll out by 2018

The Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Amendment (Real-time Prescription Monitoring) Bill 2017, which passed Victorian Parliament on Thursday, establishes the state’s own mandatory real-time prescription monitoring system – to be known as SafeScript.

SafeScript will provide doctors, nurse practitioners and pharmacists access to an up-to-the-minute database to review prescription histories of patients in their care.

The system will monitor all Schedule 8 medicines such as morphine and oxycodone, as well as other high-risk medicines including Schedule 4 poisons.

“This will allow for the database to be a comprehensive record, which will inform clinical decisions on whether to prescribe or supply high-risk medicines,” reads the Bill’s explanatory memorandum.

Once fully implemented, it will be mandatory for prescribers and pharmacists to check the system before writing or dispensing a prescription for a high-risk medicine.

Pharmacists will be required to take “all reasonable steps” to check the monitored poisons database before supplying a monitored poison, with a penalty for breaching this provision of more than $15,000 (100 penalty units).

The same penalty will apply to any authorised healthcare practitioner or supplier that does not take all reasonable steps to check the monitored poisons database before prescribing or supplying a poison.

Exceptions to mandatory checking of the database include certain circumstances where the risk of prescription shopping is low, for example when the patient is a hospital inpatient, a prisoner, or a resident in an aged care service.

The Victorian Government assures health practitioners that it will be offering more support to minimise any additional impact the system may have, and ensure that SafeScript is embedded in existing clinical work.

“It is a tragedy that so many lives are lost to prescription medicine misuse. SafeScript will save lives, by helping to stop prescription shopping from next year,” says Minister for Health Jill Hennessy.

“SafeScript will be the most comprehensive real-time prescription monitoring system in Australia. It will be effective and user-friendly for health professionals, while protecting the public from avoidable harm.”

The Federal Government continues to work with all states and territories to implement real-time monitoring across the country by the end of 2018.

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