The Victorian Government is taking action to reduce the number of Victorians dying from prescription medicine overdose.
The Government has announced in the 2016-17 State Budget a commitment to implement SafeScript system. This initiative will involve the roll out of SafeScript software system to over 1,900 medical clinics, 1,300 pharmacies and 200 hospitals throughout Victoria, as well as training and workforce support packages for doctors and pharmacists.
Safer clinical decisions
SafeScript is a clinical decision support system that will allow doctors and pharmacists to access an up-to-the-minute medication supply history of certain high risk medicines for their patient at the point of consultation. This information will enable doctors and pharmacists to make more informed decisions about the safety of supply of high-risk medication.
As this is a new tool for health professionals, a range of workforce initiatives will be developed to provide training and support for the roll out of the system. These initiatives will provide doctors and pharmacists with greater skills and knowledge on the safer prescribing and supply of high risk medicines. Funding will be provided for some minor enhancements to counselling and treatment services for patients who may be misusing prescription medicines or receiving supplies of high risk medicines beyond therapeutic needs.
Pharmaceutical drug misuse
The increasing harms and deaths from the misuse of prescription medicines is a growing major public health concern in Victoria. In 2016, there were 372 Victorian drug overdose deaths involving pharmaceutical medicines, higher than the number of overdose deaths involving illicit drugs (257), and higher than the road toll (291)..
Too many Victorian lives are lost every year to prescription medicine overdose. The Victorian Government has listened to the calls for the need for real-time prescription monitoring and is now getting on with delivering this critical public health initiative.
SafeScript will save lives.
The Victorian Government recognises the importance of consulting with doctors and pharmacists in implementing the system to all medical clinics, pharmacies and hospitals.
We will continue to work closely with medical and pharmacy organisations to ensure the successful implementation of this initiative.
Prescription medicines to be monitored by SafeScript
Schedule 8 of the Poisons Standard lists prescription medicines that require additional regulatory controls as they pose a high risk of harm from dependence, abuse and misuse. These medicines, such as oxycodone, morphine and dexamphetamine will be monitored in SafeScript.
Certain Schedule 4 prescription medicines, are also reported to be subject to misuse causing harm. To maximise the effectiveness of monitoring, it is important to make evidence-based decisions about what other medicines should be monitored.
In 2017 the Department of Health and Human Services commissioned Austin Health to conduct a literature review into the evidence of harm that a number of Schedule 4 medicines are causing in the community. The review evaluated international and Australian literature, as well as Australian and Victorian datasets.
The report was reviewed by an expert advisory group which provided its recommendations to the Victorian Government on which Schedule 4 medicines should be monitored in SafeScript. The recommended medicines include all Schedule 4 benzodiazepines, such as diazepam , ‘Z-drugs’ such as zolpidem and zopiclone as well as quetiapine, an antipsychotic drug.
It has also been recommended to include Codeine at a later stage to allow clinicians time to adjust to the rescheduling of over the counter codeine products to Prescription Only.
The following attachments contain further information about the SafeScript initiative.
Further updates on the progress of this initiative will be provided on this webpage.