The courageous decision by former NRL star Matt Cooper to go public about his battle with prescription painkillers is a powerful and timely reminder of the need for a national real-time monitoring system for drugs of dependence.
For years, governments of all political persuasions at the Federal and State and Territory level have talked about, but failed to deliver, this vital clinical tool which would enable doctors and pharmacists to identify and support patients with prescription drug addiction issues.
Coroner's report after coroner's report in States and Territories around the country have called for a national real-time monitoring system.
The Executive Director of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, David Quilty, said the system was first promised in 2010 based on a Tasmanian prototype solution with Commonwealth implementation funding.
“Six-and-a-half years later and it still has not been rolled out in any other State or Territory,” Mr Quilty said.
“This failure must be rectified as a matter of priority with all governments held publicly accountable for implementing the system to agreed, publicly available timeframes.”
Mr Quilty said doctors and pharmacists should not be expected to continue working at the front line tackling the prescription drug dependence issue with one hand held behind their backs.
“While a national real time monitoring system is not a panacea, it is a vital tool and needs to be accompanied by increased investment in pain management and rehabilitation support programs,” he said.
“Tragically, for some families this investment cannot bring back a lost loved one. But, for many thousands of others whose family members suffer from chronic pain or have become inadvertently addicted, it may make the ultimate difference.
“The Pharmacy Guild will continue advocating and working with other health professionals, patient and family groups, and governments until this long overdue gap in the health system is addressed.”
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