Prescription monitoring to save lives

The Victorian Government will act to prevent the deaths of up to 90 Victorians over the next five years, from prescription drug overdoses with a real-time prescription monitoring system.


In 2015, 330 Victorians lost their lives due to prescription drug overdoses – 5 per cent more than the previous year. This is higher than the 217 overdose deaths from illicit drugs and the 252 people killed in road accidents.


Many prescription overdoses result from people “prescription shopping” from multiple doctors and pharmacies. Without a centralised monitoring system, this often goes undetected with tragic results.


A real-time monitoring system will help medical clinics, pharmacies and hospitals better identify prescription drug seekers earlier, before their addiction escalates into serious harm.


Since 2012, there have been 21 coronial findings calling for the implementation of a Victorian real-time prescription monitoring system.


To implement the life-saving initiative, close to $30 million will be provided in the 2016-17 Victorian Budget to roll out the monitoring software, provide additional counselling and addiction treatment services, as well as providing training and support for doctors and pharmacists to identify and help prescription drug misusers early.


Once implemented, the system will allow clinicians at 1900 GP clinics, 1300 pharmacies and 200 hospitals to do an on-the-spot check before prescribing or dispensing medicines that are at high risk of misuse.


This is expected to reduce the number of people taken to emergency departments with overdoses by more than 500 per year, and see a further 700 people a year referred to counselling to try and beat their addiction.


The scheme will include Schedule 8 medicines such as morphine and oxycodone at a minimum, and the Government will consult with professional medical and pharmacy groups to determine a way to include other high-risk medicines such as diazepam.


25 April 2016.