If you are keeping up to date with our blogs, you will be aware that Victoria generally leads the way with its progressive health law initiatives. It is no surprise then that Victoria and Tasmania are among the first states to implement Real Time Prescription Monitoring (‘RTPM’) in Australia.
The statistics reveal that more Victorians have died from overdose involving prescription medicines in the last five years, than from traffic accidents or overdose involving illicit drugs (painaustralia.org.au). For example, in 2016 more than 370 Victorians died from prescription medication overdose. These numbers are not confined to Victoria – Australia currently faces a nationwide epidemic in relation to prescription drug overdose and/or dependency. Real Time Prescription Monitoring attempts to reduce the rate of death and harm resulting from such.
Via ‘SafeScript’ software, doctors and pharmacists are permitted access to real-time minute dispensing histories of patients. Only high-risk prescription medicines are listed on a dispensing history. In Victoria this includes: Schedule 8 medicines, all benzodiazepines, Z-drugs (zolpidem and zopiclone), as well as quetiapine. The aim of this initiative is to support safe prescribing and dispensing, ultimately leading to better patient safety.
SafeScript is still in its introductory phase in Victoria. By April 2020 it will be mandatory for doctors and pharmacists to ‘take all reasonable steps’ to check the SafeScript database prior to writing/dispensing a high-risk medicine. Not doing so will leave Victorian practitioners open to a fine of more than $15,000.