Safescript only the first step

Victoria has added codeine to its Safescript real-time monitoring program in a move welcomed by the PSA

State Minister for Health Jill Hennessy said that laws coming into effect on 2 July will pave the way for data to be collected, so that when the program goes live later in the year, pharmacists, doctors and nurse practitioners will be able to access up-to-the minute information on patient prescription histories.

She also announced that codeine will be added to the list of medicines monitored from the time Safescript goes live.

It had been recommended by the expert advisory group that codeine be added to the system later on.

Ms Hennessy said that codeine has been a factor in more overdose deaths in Victoria than any other opioid painkiller over the last eight years.

She said that the advising experts had examined the impact of the 1 February 2018 upschedule of low-dose codeine to prescription only, and found that there was no reason to delay its addition to Safescript.

“Too many Victorians have died from the misuse of prescription medicines. This is an avoidable tragedy and that’s why we’re getting SafeScript done to fix it,” said Minister Hennessy.

“The experts tell us it’s essential we monitor codeine and we’ve listened. The misuse of codeine can have devastating consequences so we’re giving clinicians the resources they need to monitor patient use and save lives.”

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia national president Dr Shane Jackson told the AJP that the organisation’s Victorian branch had been “very well engaged in the Safescript system” during its development.

“We’ve encouraged all high-risk drugs, including codeine, to be added to the list, and we’re pleased that codeine has been added because this is a holistic view,” he said. “It’s all opioids, it’s high-risk drugs across the board.

“Now, we need to make sure that pharmacists are supported, that GPs are supported, in being able to utilise the system.

“For example what do you do when you identify someone who might have a problem with prescription drugs? You have to have treatment programs available.

“That’s the next challenge. Safescript is the first step; the second is what you do with that information, because what you’d like to do is be able to help people.”

SafeScript will use latest technology to leverage electronic prescription exchange services to obtain prescription data for the system, the Victorian government said.

These prescription exchanges currently support the electronic transfer of prescriptions between doctors and pharmacists when medication is dispensed to patients.

SafeScript will become available for use by clinicians in October. The focus will initially be in the Western Victoria Primary Health Network catchment area, before being extended to the rest of Victoria in 2019.

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