Saving Lives: Codeine To Be Added To Safescript

More Victorian lives will be protected by the rollout of Australia’s first large-scale real-time prescription monitoring system aimed at reducing the growing harms from prescription medicines.

Minister for Health Jill Hennessy said today that laws coming into effect on 2 July will pave the way for data to be collected so that when SafeScript goes live later this year, it will give doctors, nurse practitioners and pharmacists access to up-to-the-minute information on the prescription histories of their patients.

In addition, codeine will now also be included on the list of medicines to be monitored by SafeScript from the start – instead of being added later, as originally recommended by the expert advisory group.

Codeine has been a factor in more overdose deaths in Victoria than any other opioid painkillers over the past eight years.

The experts have monitored the impact of the recent change to make codeine ‘prescription only’, and have concluded that there is now no reason to delay its addition to SafeScript – and the Labor Government has listened.

SafeScript will use the latest cutting-edge technology, leveraging electronic prescription exchange services to obtain prescription data for the system. These prescription exchanges currently support the electronic transfer of prescriptions between doctors and pharmacists when medication is dispensed to patients.

SafeScript will become available for use by clinicians in October. The focus will initially be in the Western Victoria Primary Health Network catchment area, before being extended to the rest of Victoria in 2019.

In 2016, 372 Victorians died from an overdose of prescription medicines. More people in Victoria have lost their lives from prescription medicines than the road toll for five years in a row.

The Labor Government has provided $29.5 million to implement SafeScript and keep Victorians safe from the harms of prescription medicine misuse.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy

“Too many Victorians have died from the misuse of prescription medicines. This is an avoidable tragedy and that’s why we’re getting SafeScript done to fix it.”

“The experts tell us it’s essential we monitor codeine and we’ve listened. The misuse of codeine can have devastating consequences so we’re giving clinicians the resources they need to monitor patient use and save lives.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley

“Prescription medicine dependency can happen to anyone. SafeScript will help reduce this growing problem which is affecting far too many everyday Victorians. We know it will save lives.”

View the media release here