More Prescription Pills To Be Monitored To Save Victorian Lives

28 July 2017

The Andrews Labor Government today announced high-risk prescription medicines to be monitored under a new real-time prescription monitoring system currently being developed.

The system will monitor strong painkillers, all benzodiazepines and ‘Z class’ medicines in a bid to reduce the number of Victorians dying from prescription medicine overdoses.

Many prescription medicine overdoses result from people ‘prescription shopping’ from multiple doctors and pharmacies. Our centralised system will help save lives by identifying misuse and providing support earlier.

Last year, 372 Victorians died from an overdose of prescription medicines. More people in Victoria have lost their lives from the misuse of prescription medicines than the road toll for five years in a row.

Based on the latest international and local research, and recommendations from our expert advisory group, the system will monitor prescription medicines that are causing the greatest harm to the Victorian community.

These include Schedule 8 medicines, which cover strong painkillers such as morphine and oxycodone. Other high-risk medicines to be monitored include all benzodiazepines used for treating conditions such as anxiety and insomnia, ‘Z class’ medicines also used for insomnia, as well as quetiapine, an anti-psychotic medicine.

Benzodiazepines contribute to the most number of prescription drug-related deaths in Victoria.

Codeine will also be monitored, but will be included at a later stage to allow clinicians time to adjust to the proposed rescheduling of over the counter codeine products to prescription only by the Therapeutic Goods Administration from February 2018.

In an Australian first and following worldwide best practice, using the system will be mandatory for doctors and pharmacists before prescribing or supplying a high-risk medicine.

The Labor Government has invested $29.5 million to implement a real-time prescription monitoring system in Victoria. This includes $1 million to develop and deliver comprehensive training and education for doctors and pharmacists across Victoria.

It is expected the system will be rolled out next year.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy

“Victoria is the only state developing a real-time prescription monitoring system for a wide range of high risk medicines - it will save lives.”

“More Victorians are dying from prescription drug overdoses each year than on our roads. This will help stop the prescription shopping and get people the help and support they need.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley

“It’s tragic that so many Victorians every year are dying from prescription medicine overdoses. We are taking action to ensure people misusing drugs can get the support and treatment they need to beat their addition.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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