Federal govt commits to real-time monitoring of prescriptions

By Australian Hospital + Healthcare Bulletin Staff
Thursday, 03 August, 2017

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The federal government is investing $16 million to ensure the national rollout of real-time prescription monitoring for medicines to prevent their misuse and needless loss of life.

The Real Time Prescription Monitoring system will give pharmacists and doctors an instant alert if patients have received multiple supplies of prescription-only medicines, providing an up-to-the-minute medication supply history of certain high-risk medicines at the point of consultation. This information will enable doctors and pharmacists to make more informed decisions about the safety of supply of medication to that patient, assisting them to identify patients who are at risk of harm due to dependency, misuse or abuse of controlled medicines, as well as patients who are diverting these medicines for other purposes. 

This can happen if a patient has developed a dependency on controlled medicines or is selling these medicines to others, including for the purposes of manufacturing other illegal drugs. Controlled medicines include morphine, oxycodone, dexamphetamine and alprazolam.

Real-time monitoring has been called for by the Australian Medical Association, the Pharmacy Guild and the many families across the country who have been devastated by the loss of a loved one to misuse of prescription medicine. 

The Victorian government had previously announced in its 2016–17 Budget a commitment to implement real-time prescription monitoring in Victoria, involving rolling out the software system to over 1900 medical clinics, 1300 pharmacies and 200 hospitals throughout Victoria, as well as training and support packages for doctors and pharmacists.

The Australian Government first funded the development of the Electronic Reporting and Recording of Controlled Drugs system to assist state and territory governments to improve their monitoring and regulation of controlled medicines in 2013. 

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Karanov images

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