Real-time monitoring a reality, Hunt tells PSA17

The federal government is committing $16 million this year to the national rollout of  a real-time monitoring system for prescription drugs.

Health Minister Greg Hunt announced this among other initiatives at the PSA17 conference at Darling Harbour in Sydney, which began today with a near-capacity attendance of 1,200 delegates from Australia and overseas.

The conference is being staged jointly by the Commonwealth Pharmacists Association and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia.

Mr Hunt said he supported a shared vision where pharmacists are fundamental to not just medicine dispensing but also healthcare in this country.

He said the real-time monitoring system will deal with managing very-strong prescription drugs, such as morphine, oxycontin or fentanyl, and is aimed at preventing the deaths of about 600 people a year related to their misuse.

“The only target here is to bring this number to zero,” Mr Hunt said. “This is something that we’re going to deliver now, over the course of the next 18 months: the investment of $16 million, but much more important than that is the commitment for the first time to have a genuine safeguard and protection for those who are legitimately using these controlled and dangerous painkillers and medicines.”

Location rules will continue and the legislation to remove the sunset clause will be put forward soon, giving pharmacists peace of mind and surety, he said.

In another initiative, medicines reviews for indigenous patients will be introduced, with Aboriginal service providers able to directly hire pharmacists.

Mr Hunt also announced an asthma-management initiative, with a trial in this area to prevent incorrect administration of asthma-prevention medications.

The minister said he supported another initiative for biosimilars that “give more bang for your buck in a constrained budget”.

He also emphasised that a “platform of trust” between the profession and the government would be established for talks leading to the next Community Pharmacy Agreement and, to that end, the $600 million in funds would be delivered, with $340 million pledged to dose administration aids and $80 million for staged supply.

Mr Hunt also presented 2017 PSA Excellence Awards. Winners were:
  • 2017 PSA Early Career Pharmacist – Elise Apolloni (Capital Chemist Wanniassa, Canberra).
  • 2017 PSA Pharmacist of the Year – Irvine Newton (Newtons Pharmacy group, Victoria).
  • 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award – John Bell (John Bell Pharmacy, Woollahra, Sydney).