Last year, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Health planned to adopt a new real-time monitoring system called Canberra Script, and in the same year, pilot sites started.
On February 24, 2022, the PSA finally welcomed the new system. This replaced the previous one called DAPIS Online Remote Access (DORA).
Although it is still voluntary for practitioners to use this new system during this stage, every health practitioner who is to prescribe or dispense monitored medications is highly encouraged to use it to provide safer care for ACT patients.
Compared to the DORA, Canberra Script is more enhanced as it provides the following features:
Real-time alerts and notifications in case patients exhibit drug-seeking behaviours
Prescribers can apply for Chief Health Officer approval in case they want to prescribe controlled medicines using the new system
Offers simple self-service registration portal
Generally, Canberra Script will be implemented across the country to reduce the risk of harm from abuse and misuse of pharmaceuticals. This system will be used by medical practitioners, nurse practitioners, and pharmacists.
Increasing Number of Opioid-Dependent Patients in Australia
Opioid dependence and the harm it causes are alarming not just in the country but globally. According to the World Health Organization, opioid misuse and abuse can lead to dependence, and these are associated with overdose. In 2017, around 115,000 people globally died because of opioid overdose.
Based on the data provided by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 3.1 million people had one or more prescriptions dispensed for opioids. Additionally, opioid deaths rose by 62% from 2007 to 2016.
Because of these statistics, pharmacists are called to work more closely with patients to reduce the risk of substance abuse in the country. There are opioid treatment dependence (OTD) programs available that patients with substance abuse disorder can consider.
Furthermore, to address this alarming issue, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia formulated a strategy that involves the Federal Government funding a National Opioid Dependence Treatment Program under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
The opioid dependence issue might not resolve as fast as everyone hopes but with a proactive approach like what the Guild suggests, everything is achievable.
Since the Canberra Script is now launched, there is a higher chance to reduce the harms and prevent the deaths of patients not just from opioid dependence but for the abuse and misuse of all monitored medications.
Is Alcohol Abuse an Urgent Issue in Australia?
Alcohol use can affect the well-being of a person. In Australia, alcohol consumption is widespread, and in 2019, it was reported that 79% of Australian adults have consumed it. Also, 1 out of 5 Australians aged 14 and above reported being a victim of alcohol-related incidents in the same year.
Furthermore, this alcohol consumption is said to be one of the ways for Australians to cope with the stress the Covid-19 pandemic brings. As cited in the Retail Pharmacy, 1 out of 5 Australians purchased more alcohol than usual during this global crisis.
The use of alcohol can alter thoughts and can increase the risk of depression and anxiety disorder. Alcohol abuse is also attributed to the following:
Breast cancer in women
Bowel / colorectal cancer
Moreover, the rate of hospitalisations attributed to alcohol abuse in the year 2012-2013 is 10%. As alcohol use can also interact with many drugs, it is important for healthcare providers, especially pharmacists, to provide information about these food and drug interactions.
Together with the use of the new system called Canberra Script, the goal of every health practitioner is to promote harm minimisation responses to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
Australian’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Behaviour Leads to Suicide and Self-Harm
There are many causes of suicide and intentional self-harm. Two of these include alcohol and drug abuse.
According to the statistics provided by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, poisoning by drugs accounts for 29% and 8.2% of female and male suicide deaths, respectively.
In a study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 10% to 69% of suicide cases contain positive blood alcohol concentration at the time of death. This means that the abuse and misuse of this substance can lead to self-harm.
For these reasons, healthcare professionals, including pharmacists, are vital in promoting the proper use of medications and spreading the harm these substances, including alcohol, cause.
If you are a pharmacist and you want to join the call in promoting health awareness in Australia and New Zealand, great job opportunities can be found from Raven’s Recruitment.
Since 1987, Raven's Recruitment has been specialising in Pharmacist recruitment, so we have expert knowledge in the space. If you are looking for an exciting opportunity to work as a locum pharmacist or want a permanent job, then look no further - get in touch with our Recruitment Consultants today.