NSW push for real-time monitoring to reduce prescription drug misuse

Paul Hayes

20/08/2018 11:04:30 AM

The NSW opposition has announced plans for a real-time prescription monitoring system in an effort to curb growing opioid deaths, but the State Government is clear in its belief that a national approach is needed.

State Opposition Leader Luke Foley wants NSW to follow its coroner’s advice that real-time prescription monitoring is needed ‘as a matter of urgency’. (Image: Dean Lewins)
State Opposition Leader Luke Foley wants NSW to follow its coroner’s advice that real-time prescription monitoring is needed ‘as a matter of urgency’. (Image: Dean Lewins)

Australian deaths related to prescription drugs now outpace deaths from illicit drugs, with the majority attributed to opioids and other prescription medications at high risk of misuse.
‘Around 600 Australians die every year from prescription drug overdoses. This is something we can help prevent in NSW,’ NSW Shadow Minister Health Walt Secord said. ‘Real-time prescription monitoring will be a tool for doctors and pharmacists to make safer decisions about whether to prescribe or dispense high-risk medicine.’
NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley, the state’s proposed system will cost $30 million over four years, and will be patterned on Victoria’s SafeScript scheme, which monitors the prescriptions of all Schedule 8 medicines (opioids, painkillers and stimulants). It will also include additional training and support for health professionals, as well as a public awareness campaign. 
‘Last month, the Deputy Coroner said NSW needed to implement real-time prescription monitoring as a matter of urgency to help prevent accidental overdose deaths like that of young Sydney mother Alissa Campbell in 2015,’ he said.
‘I urge the NSW Government to introduce real-time prescription monitoring.’
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard, who said he raised the issue of real-time monitoring with health ministers at a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting earlier this year, believes a national system is required to stop people from travelling to access prescription drugs.
‘This is an issue that the Liberal National Government has identified as being crucial to stop prescription shopping,’ he said. ‘At the moment, there is no national system and it needs to be national because, otherwise, it would be pointless because people would just cross the border into other states to access the drugs.’
Victoria’s real-time prescription monitoring system, which recently added codeine, will be available to clinicians in October. The Federal Government’s preferred option is an updated version of the Drugs and Poisons Information System Online Remote Access (DORA) system first trialled in Tasmanian clinics and pharmacies in 2012.

The calls for a new system in NSW come as the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at UNSW Sydney released a new report, Opioid-, amphetamine-, and cocaine-induced deaths in Australia, which showed:

  • the highest rates of opioid-induced death in 2016 were for natural and semisynthetic opioids (morphine, oxycodone, codeine, etc), with 3.1 deaths per 100,000 people (498 deaths) 
  • the rate of deaths attributed to synthetic opioids (eg tramadol and fentanyl) has increased, with 1.3 deaths per 100,000 people (214 deaths) in 2016, up from 0.11 per 100,000 in 2007
  • nearly half (45%) of opioid-induced deaths in 2016 also recorded a benzodiazepine as contributing to the death (475 deaths) 
  • the rate of opioid-induced deaths was higher among males and among those aged 35–44 years, with low rates recorded among the 15–24 age group
  • most of the opioid-induced deaths (85%) were considered accidental, with one-tenth recorded as intentional.

opioids prescription drug misuse real-time prescription monitoring

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Mel   18/04/2019 8:17:21 PM

Please push this through as my sister gets prescriptions from her Dr for pain killers such as Endone, margin, also antidepressants and sleepers and she Dr shops and the Drs write scripts even over the phone to be picked up ...I don't want to loose her by death by prescription drugs ...I beg her to stop but of course shes in denial and the Drs keep writing !!!@