Penington Institute congratulates the Australian and Victorian Government’s on their respective announcements today concerning real-time prescription monitoring.
Earlier today the Turnbull Government made an announcement of more than $16 million to deliver a national roll out, while the Victorian Government has listed the kinds of medications that will be targeted – focusing particularly on drugs that contribute most to accidental overdose.
The drugs that Victoria will be monitoring include Schedule 8 medicines – strong painkillers including morphine and oxycodone, as well as benzodiazepines and quetiapine.
“Both Governments deserve to be congratulated for taking practical action to help stem the tide of preventable death caused by these drugs,” said John Ryan, CEO of Penington Institute.
“Real-time prescription monitoring has the potential to make a positive difference and reduce the high levels of overdose occurring in Australia.
“Monitoring the use of prescription drugs is only half of the story – a strong emphasis also needs to be placed on treatment and support services available to people addicted to these drugs.
“With 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.
“So we need to address the existing barriers to drug treatment.”
Mr Ryan says that the prohibitive cost of supervised treatments is a significant barrier to accessing support services for people addicted to illicit and prescription drugs.
“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 from today’s announcement would be for the Federal Government to review the 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.”
“Today’s announcements are a good first step in helping people who are dependent on pharmacy medications.”
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