Pharmacy Guild ramps up pressure for controlled drugs system
The Pharmacy Guild has joined calls from other healthcare provider groups for the introduction of the Electronic Recording and Reporting of Controlled Drugs (ERRCD) system in light of continued avoidable deaths from prescription drug overdoses.
The Guild has joined the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and the Australian Medical Association in lobbying for the system, which is currently available for implementation by the states and territories.
The Medical Software Industry Association (MSIA) has also backed the calls, with a spokesperson saying the association agrees wholeheartedly with the Guild’s call for prompt implementation of the national system.
Writing in last week's edition of its Forefront newsletter, Pharmacy Guild executive director David Quilty said it was time for doctors and pharmacists to unite in demanding a national system for the electronic recording and reporting of controlled drugs.
“For too long, governments have dawdled and blame shifted, instead of putting this vital medication management tool in place,” Mr Quilty said.
“Coroners in virtually every jurisdiction have consistently called for an ERRCD to no avail. It is a sad situation when the voice of the coroner is starting to sound repetitive.”
Mr Quilty said money was made available under the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement (5CPA) to develop a national ERRCD solution, which was based on Tasmania's Drugs and Poisons Information System Online Remote Access (DORA) system.
DORA involves a controlled drug electronic register that is integrated with pharmacy dispensing software and is also accessible by prescribers. It allows for real-time reporting as opposed to the paper-based system that pharmacists use now.
However, while NSW is understood to have made some progress, the MSIA spokesperson said only the ACT had implemented it.
“Under the 5th Community Pharmacy Agreement, the MSIA was contracted to develop nationally consistent specifications for reporting the dispensing of controlled drugs to state and territory health departments,” the spokesperson said.
“This work was completed in April 2014. To date, only the ACT health department (Health Protection Services) has adopted this solution.
“Dispensing vendors stand ready to implement this important reform. We know it will save lives.”
Chief pharmacists from all jurisdictions are understood to have discussed the issue at an opioids roundtable in Canberra in late May.
Mr Quilty said the reasons given for the lack of progress with the ERRCD vary from squabbling over funding to disagreements in relation to the best technological solutions.
“The stop-start approach to e-health has not helped, with a comprehensive e-medication management system providing the most sensible longer term solution to the problem,” he said.
“While the States and Territories have made varying degrees of headway in introducing real time electronic monitoring systems, a national ERRCD is still an unacceptably long way off.”
While the proposed ERRCD only monitors Schedule 8 drugs like opioids and Xanax, a solution is also required for Schedule 4 drugs of addiction such as benzodiazepines, which when combined with other drugs and alcohol are the most frequent cause of death from multiple drug toxicity, Mr Quilty said.
He said Project STOP, the Guild-developed system that targets pseudoephedrine misuse, showed that it was possible to product a reliable, real-time monitoring system.
“It is time for governments around the country to do the right thing, sort out their differences, remove the roadblocks and ensure that the ERRCD is put in place as quickly as possible,” he said.
“The issues are clearly identified and it is time to produce the solutions, including a timeline of where each state and territory is up to in its implementation of the ERRCD.”
Posted in Australian eHealth