The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia has welcomed calls by the NSW Deputy State Coroner Carmel Forbes for real-time prescription reporting for all benzodiazepines. The recommendation calls on the NSW Health Minister to consider the steps to be taken for the implementation of real-time reporting within twelve months.
The recommendation is one of 13 arising from an inquest into the deaths of three people from prescription drug overdoses.
Magistrate Forbes called for the real-time reporting system for these drugs to allow general practitioners to see if patients have been prescribed medications by other doctors – and for pharmacists to be able to see if the medications have been dispensed through other pharmacies – that day or in recent months.
The PSA’s NSW President Dr Stephen Carter hailed the Coroner’s recommendation as common-sense and called on the NSW Minister for Health to act on the recommendation noting Health Ministers had previously agreed on the need for such a system.
“The PSA has been advocating strongly for this system for an extended period. A system exists which we understand links with prescribing and dispensing software and the Commonwealth Government has purchased software licences for all States and Territories,” Dr Carter said.
“The NSW Government needs to act. We know there are resource and practical implications for the NSW Ministry of Health, however it is not obvious how much progress has been made in addressing these.
“Previously we have been told the roll out would take three years with tentative implementation in 2015. Given that it would appear that no funds for this were included in the recent NSW Health budget, we hope that the NSW Deputy State Coroner’s recommendations will impel a higher priority for this scheme within NSW.
The Real Time Drug Monitoring System is recognised by PSA and the medical profession as reducing the risks of doctor shopping, reducing the harms caused by the misuse of prescription drugs and saving many lives.
Dr Carter continued, “Having a system that allows for the accurate, real time recording of medications prescribed and dispensed is invaluable. To maximise effectiveness General Practitioners and community pharmacists will need to be aware of, trained in and be comfortable with using the systems. We are keen to work with the NSW Ministry of Health to address this important initiative and support its roll out as soon as possible.”
PSA National President Grant Kardachi said pharmacists had a pivotal role in delivering better health outcomes for consumers and reducing the abuse and diversion of prescription medicines for misuse in its own right.
“The pharmacy profession has strong and important role to play. Pharmacists, with their years of study and training, are the exponents of the quality use of medicines,” he said.
Magistrate Forbes also called for all drugs classed as benzodiazepines such as Serepax, Valium and Mogadon to be moved from the less strict schedule four drug category to the harder-to-obtain schedule eight category.