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Urgent Action Needed on Accidental Overdoses

doctors patients medicines

New data on accidental opioid overdoses from prescription painkillers reinforces the urgent need for a nationally consistent mandated system for real time recording of controlled drugs.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia strongly supports the introduction of real time recording, and the urgency is highlighted by today’s Fairfax media report which shows more Australians are dying from pharmaceutical prescription opioids than from heroin overdoses.

For too long, coroners around the nation have sounded the alarm on these overdose deaths and called for a national system of real time recording, with no national system implemented.

The Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, recently committed to progressing this issue, and the Guild strongly supports any measures the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments can take to bring this long awaited clinical support tool into operation nationally.

Real time recording is a vital clinical tool which would enable doctors and pharmacists to identify and support patients with prescription drug addiction issues.

The President of the Guild’s Victorian Branch, Anthony Tassone, said: “Doctors and pharmacists should not be expected to continue working at the front line tackling the prescription drug dependence issue without the full knowledge that real time recording would provide.

“As we have been doing consistently for a number of years, the Guild will continue advocating and working with other health professionals, patient and family groups, and governments until this long overdue gap in the health system is addressed,” Mr Tassone said.

The Pharmacy Guild introduced a voluntary real time recording system for over-the counter low-dose pain relief medicines containing codeine in March last year.

This has been taken up voluntarily by more than 70 per cent of community pharmacies nationally, but such systems need to be mandatory.

Currently, there is no national real time recording and monitoring system used by doctors to provide information on patients that might be misusing prescription codeine medicines (or other prescription medicines) by doctor shopping.

With the proposed up-scheduling of low-dose medicines containing codeine to prescription-only, there is currently little or no ability for GP prescribers to know if a patient who asks for codeine has not had the same medicine recently prescribed to them by another doctor. That’s why a nationally consistent real time recording system must be implemented urgently.

Please click here to view the original media release.

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