WA moves to cut doctor shopping

medicines under magnifying glass

Western Australia is introducing real-time monitoring of controlled drugs in a move lauded by the Pharmacy Guild

The Western Australian Branch of the Pharmacy Guild says it strongly supports new measures being rolled out in the state to curb “doctor shopping” and self-harm caused by inappropriate use of controlled drugs.

New regulations for the sale, supply and manufacture of medicines and poisons came into effect this week, which are aimed at not only reducing business compliance costs, but also promoting the safe dispensing of controlled drugs.

West Australian Health Minister John Day says the regulations will give force to the Medicines and Poisons Act 2014, bringing Western Australia into line with other States and Territories, reducing duplication and making it easier for national operators to comply with the rules.

“For example, one of the changes means a pharmacist will no longer need to obtain a licence from the Department of Health in addition to meeting the assessment and regulation criteria of the Pharmacy Registration Board of WA,” Mr Day says.

“The new legislation also establishes the legal framework for the transfer of information about the prescribing and dispensing of controlled drugs such as morphine and dexamphetamine, through the use of real-time reporting systems.

“It has enhanced powers to deal with ‘doctor shoppers’ and the ability to better assist doctors manage patients with addiction issues.

“However, the legislation also includes strict safeguards over the use and sharing of this sensitive data and maintains controls around high-risk medications.”

WA Pharmacy Guild National Councillor Lenette Mullen says the measures are a step in the right direction in the battle against self-harm and deaths caused by abuse of powerful controlled medications.

“Improved channels of communication among doctors, pharmacists and the Health Department are vital in dealing with this widespread social problem,” Ms Mullen says.

The State Government has allocated $1 million to support the changes, including the Electronic Recording and Reporting of Controlled Drugs (ERRCD) system.

The ERRCD will require modification to meet WA regulatory requirements and business needs, and therefore development and roll out of the system will be completed in stages.

The transition to the new system is expected to be completed by late 2018 and training and support will be available to pharmacists and prescribers closer to the date.

The Pharmacy Guild says it looks forward to working with the Department to assist community pharmacies in implementing this critical initiative.

“The Pharmacy Guild of Australia strongly supports the development of a national mandated system for real time recording of controlled drugs,” Lenette Mullen says.

“For too long, the tragedy of overdose deaths has been a scourge in our society, with coroners around the nation lamenting the lack of action.

“It is high time for an effective real time recording system to be in place everywhere across Australia, and in that regard Western Australia has taken a very significant step forward. We look forward to other States and Territories coming on board.”

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  1. Wayne Sturges

    Awesome!! About time and then lets not stop there. How about adding Benzos to the list as well and Codeine particularly as it will be S4 next Feb, and lets maybe look at Lyrica now that some clowns are even abusing that. Why not real time monitoring on everything prescribed and dispensed then maybe Doctors can see how bad some of their patients are with compliance. A great move Mr Day, I fully support it.
    It never really hits you just how bad this problem is until you work alongside another Pharmacist who also works at other Pharmacies near you and they tell you that the person you are dispensing for was somewhere else getting the same drugs the day before. I’m sure others agree on this. Good move

    • PharmOwner

      “Why not real time monitoring on everything prescribed and dispensed then maybe Doctors can see how bad some of their patients are with compliance.”
      I called for this 10 years ago, but was told (by the office of the federal Health Minister) that privacy laws would block such a move.

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