The Andrews Labor Government is taking action to reduce the number of Victorians dying from prescription drug overdoses, with the introduction of a real-time prescription monitoring system.
With more people losing their lives each year in Victoria from overdoses of prescription drugs than those dying in road accidents, a real-time prescription monitoring system has the potential to prevent the deaths of up to 90 Victorians over the next five years.
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 our 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, however the former Liberal Government failed to act.
To implement this life-saving initiative, we will provide close to $30 million 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 the best way to include other high-risk medicines such as diazepam.
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.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy
"With more Victorians dying every year from prescription drug overdoses than road accidents, we can’t afford to wait any longer to take action."
"We have listened to the families who have experienced first-hand the tragedies of prescription medicine overdoses, and we’re getting on with delivering this life-saving initiative."
Quotes attributable to Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley
"This will help us identify people misusing prescription drugs earlier, so they can get the support and treatment they need to beat their addiction."
Reviewed 19 August 2020