Renewed calls for real-time prescription drug monitoring system

The Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has renewed its recent calls for the expedited roll-out of the proposed national real-time prescription drug monitoring system at the Victorian Pharmaceutical Misuse Summit, held in Melbourne today.

Convened by the Victorian Department of Health, the summit brought together 90 representatives from the health sector, including the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, the Pharmacy Guild of Victoria, Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre and the Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VAADA).

Speaking in advance of the summit, AMA Victoria president Stephen Parnis said the Victorian Coroners Court had shown that in 2012, 304 Victorians died from prescription drug overdose, more than the state’s road toll of 282.

Another 176 people had died from drug overdoses, 82 per cent of which were the result of prescription drugs, in the first half of 2013.

AMA Victoria has been actively campaigning for the introduction of the real-time monitoring system as part of a raft of programs aimed at reducing prescription drug misuse.

Better known as the Electronic Recording and Reporting of Controlled Drugs (ERRCD) system, licences for the Tasmanian-developed software were purchased for the states and territories by the former Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek, in February 2012.

As the regulation of the prescribing and dispensing of controlled drugs is the responsibility of the states and territories, changes to legislation and reporting processes are required in each jurisdiction.

A spokeswoman for the federal Department of Health told Pulse+IT recently that ERRCD is currently installed on a secure host server and is operational, “waiting for each state and territory to commence utilisation”.

The NSW Ministry of Health said it is currently working through the financial and practical implications of implementing ERRCD, and that a full roll out is likely to take three years.

“There may need to be changes to legislation to require the provision of pharmacy dispensing records of controlled drugs and to enable access to records by medical practitioners and pharmacists,” a NSW Health spokesperson said.

Western Australia currently has a bill before state parliament that will support required changes to laws governing the collection, sharing and protection of personal data, but a WA Health spokesperson said there was still a lot of technical and administrative work that needed to be done before software can be rolled out.

Queensland, meanwhile, is looking at what modifications the system might require and whether it can run in conjunction with its existing Monitoring of Drugs of Dependence System (MODDS).

The system has been rolled out in Tasmania, but the Victorian and South Australian governments are still being lobbied by local AMA branches for news on its introduction.

Pulse+IT has requested an update from the NT and ACT departments of health.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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