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SafeScript program shows thousands at risk, call for national rollout

The first month of Victoria’s SafeScript real-time prescription monitoring program has shown that over 27,000 Victorians are at high risk of overdose or other harm from high-risk medicines.

The system monitors the supply of medicines with a high risk dependence and/or overdose, such as strong opioid painkillers and sleeping tablets. It has already flagged thousands of Victorians visiting multiple healthcare providers regarding these medicines, and thousands more taking them in excessive doses or risky combinations. This information is available to doctors and pharmacists using SafeScript any time they prescribe or dispense, and is being welcomed as a clinical tool for identifying patients that may need a change in their prescription or additional support regarding their medication use.

SafeScript is already being used by 11,000 Victorian healthcare professionals, and by April 2020 will be mandatory to check before writing or dispensing scripts for the medicines being monitored. Despite the encouraging early uptake and initial success, program director Matthew McCrone has claimed that the next and harder challenge is ensuring that health professionals are able to act on the information appropriately.

Many experts are now calling for the system to be rolled out nationally, but the deputy director of the Monash Addiction Research Centre Dr Suzanne Nielsen has urged caution until the outcomes of the program can be more fully assessed. In particular, she pointed out the potential need to minimise any unintended harms such as unnecessarily deprescribing beneficial medications, as has been reported in the US.

 

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Source: ABC Health and Wellbeing