Penington Institute welcomes today’s introduction of legislation into Parliament that will deliver real-time prescription monitoring in Victoria as an important milestone in ending the prescription overdose crisis currently underway in Victoria.
The initiative will help stem the number of people who will become addicted to pharmacy medication.
Penington Institute CEO John Ryan said that while real-time monitoring is a good first step, it must be balanced with equitable access to treatment to ensure the community is better prepared to help people already addicted to pharmacy medications.
Mr Ryan says the prohibitive cost of supervised treatments are a significant and unnecessary barrier for people addicted to illicit and prescription drugs accessing support services.
“It is currently much more expensive to be on supervised treatment than doctor shopping – prescription monitoring alone is not going to prevent people from accessing drugs. It should be expected that many will turn to illicit street based drug markets that in turn are fuelled by stolen and diverted medications,” he said.
“One thing that would be a useful next step would be reviewing the pharmacy dispensing fee that currently acts as a barrier to people who are dependent on drugs from getting treatment.
“Addressing this would easily remove what is a significant barrier to treatment for many individuals.
“With greater detection of people who have a problem with drug addiction there is an opportunity to get the system right and ensure that people who have a drug dependence now don’t end up turning to more dangerous drug use.”
The drugs that Victoria will be monitoring include Schedule 8 medicines – strong painkillers including morphine and oxycodone, as well as benzodiazepines and quetiapine.
“Real-time prescription monitoring has the potential to reduce the high levels of overdose occurring in Australia,” said Mr Ryan.
“However monitoring prescription drugs use is really only half of the story – a strong emphasis also needs to be placed on treatment and support services available to the many Victorians addicted to these drugs.
“With this greater vigilance comes the opportunity to have a more focused intervention – getting people the kinds of treatment they need.
“The real risk is that without support people who are addicted to these drugs will turn to the street-based illicit drug markets, with increases in crime and greater chances of death from overdose a big risk.
Penington Institute convenes International Overdose Awareness Day and produces the Australia’s Annual Overdose Report
Media contact – Penington Institute:
Ben Grundy 0420 392 202 and firstname.lastname@example.org