SafeScript is set to roll out in one Victorian PHN area, ahead of its state-wide expansion next year
And president of the Pharmacy Guild Victorian branch Anthony Tassone has compared the system to the implementation of road safety measures.
Minister for Health Jill Hennessy joined clinicians at the Carnovale Pharmacy in Yarraville, inner-western Melbourne, over the weekend to announce that the program will begin in the Western Victoria Primary Health Network catchment in October.
SafeScript is set to give pharmacists, doctors and nurse practitioners access to up-to-the-minute information about their patients’ prescription histories, says the Andrews Labor Government.
It will monitor all Schedule 8 medicines such as morphine and oxycodone, as well as other medicines of concern including codeine and diazepam.
“Too many Victorians have died from the misuse of prescription medications. SafeScript will save lives,” says Ms Hennessy.
“We promised the most comprehensive and cutting-edge real-time prescription monitoring system in Australia and that’s exactly what we’re rolling out.”
Deaths caused by prescription medicine misuse have outnumbered the road toll in Victoria for the past six years, says Labor. In 2017, 414 Victorian lives were lost due to prescription medicine overdoses.
“More Victorians sadly lose their life each year to overdose from prescription medicines than the road toll,” says the Guild’s Mr Tassone.
“These days we couldn’t imagine driving a car without a seatbelt or not having speed limits on our roads to reduce harm.
“With appropriate treatment and support for patients with drug dependency concerns, SafeScript will help save lives.”
He says that SafeScript will help doctors and pharmacists make more informed decisions when prescribing and dispensing medicines that, while they may bring benefits in treatment of a range of conditions for patients, have known risks of dependency and other potential harms.
“The Guild strongly supports and welcomes the roll out of the SafeScript real time prescription monitoring system,” he says.
“Given the funding commitment from the Federal government to support the implementation of real time monitoring across Australia, we implore other States and Territories to ensure they have systems in place for real time monitoring as soon as possible to help protect their communities.”
According to the Victorian Government, experts have told its decision-makers that “doctor shopping” allows patients who are dependent on prescription medicines to obtain unsafe quantities of medicines of concern.
A new awareness campaign is being rolled out to highlight the potential dangers posed by some prescription medications.
Victoria has also introduced a dedicated pharmaceuticals hotline offering free, expert and confidential advice and support for people concerned about their use of high-risk medicines.
SafeScript is the country’s first comprehensive real-time monitoring system and represents a $29.5 million investment from the state Government.
A number of jurisdictions around the country have announced their own real-time monitoring systems, while NSW decision-makers continue to wait for the national system to roll out.
Recently NSW Labor said it would introduce real-time monitoring, if elected, a move welcomed by the state’s branches of the Guild and PSA, which have been together lobbying for such a system.