MediSecure acknowledges International Overdose Awareness Day 2015

As the CEO of MediSecure, I am pleased to recognise and acknowledge International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD). The theme for this year’s IOAD is Rethink and Remember, and our thoughts are with the families and friends that have sadly suffered the loss of a loved one through the social scourge of an overdose. All overdose related deaths are a tragedy. International Overdose Awareness Day is a time to remember and reflect. Many people are committed to combating this problem and to find solutions that prevent these tragic deaths. As part of a company that works with medical professionals, my attention has long been directed to preventing fatal overdoses as a result of prescription medicines. This is a widespread and serious issue that still remains largely unknown and unremarked upon within the Australian community. Prescription medicines, when prescribed by a medical professional seem innocuous. The use of medicines such as benzodiazepines and opioid analgesics is increasingly common. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners estimates that 7 million prescriptions for benzodiazepines are written in Australia each year. (ref) Between 1991-2010, the Australian population increased by 29% while the opioid prescription base supply to Australia increased 228% (ref). This growth is remarkable and troubling. The consequence has been a rise in accidental overdose deaths and hence International Overdose Awareness Day is critical for recognising this. The solution to this problem must be multifaceted and it must be actioned immediately. On this important day, I am compelled to note that many of these overdose deaths are preventable. It is time for the Australian community to increase awareness and education on the potential...

More women dying from prescription medicine overdose

In a recent statistics revealed by Australian Bureau of Statistics for the Penington Institute, it was found that accidental prescription medicine overdose deaths among females have risen 65 per cent in the past decade. This has risen more sharply in comparison to men, and it needs to be addressed. Prescription medicine overdose has increased massively in the US In America, the epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse has led to more than 6,600 women dying from prescription medicine overdose, a 400% increase from 1999 to 2010. (ref) Reasons behind the prescription medicine overdose increases may include: the need to continue their day-to-day activities of work, family and household responsibilities. As such, when they get injured or face anxiety and/or depression, they do end up using prescription medicines to gain normality in their daily lives. Health professionals need to recognise that women can be at risk of prescription medicine overdose and gaining access to DrShop real time prescription monitoring, is important to reduce such incidents....

Australia faces a national prescription medicine addiction crisis

Prescription medicine addiction on the rise In recent years, we are seeing a surge in the number of Australians taking prescription drugs. This is leading to an increase in prescription medicine addiction. Evidence shows that opioid analgesics being prescribed to alleviate acute and chronic pain, as well as benzodiazepines to relieve stress and anxiety, are leading to addiction and in some tragic cases, death through overdose. While these medicines are relatively safe and are used for correct medicinal purposes by many Australians, when used chronically, both opioids and benzodiazepines can be addictive. In Victoria alone, newly released findings from the Coroners’ Court of Victoria highlighted how prescription drugs in general, and benzodiazepines in particular, consistently contribute to more deaths than either illicit drugs or alcohol. This continues to highlight the massive prescription medicine addiction problem we face and the urgency to introduce a Real Time Prescription Monitoring system....

Benzodiazepines implicated in a huge number of ambulance callouts

Benzodiazepines were responsible for significantly more ambulance callouts than heroin last year in Victoria, as revealed in a report by Turning Point. The “Ambo Project: Alcohol and Drug Related Ambulance Attendances” highlights the growing trend of prescription medicine misuse and overdose that is afflicting much of Australia.In comparison to illicit drugs such as crystal methamphetamine and heroin, the potential health risks associated with the misuse of benzodiazepines are not widely understood. Better awareness in preventing misuse and providing primary care providers with the best tools are important measures to address this increasing problem. The Turning Point report was a collaborative effort between Turning Point and Ambulance Victoria, funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services. It encapsulates important data to help us better understand the impacts of drug-related ambulance cases and sheds light on important overdose statistics. The data was extracted from the electronic system used by Ambulance Victoria paramedics to record details of the emergency ambulance callouts that they attend. It is a combination of data from both metropolitan and regional Victoria. (ref) The report showed that alcohol was responsible for the highest number of ambulance callouts, with 12,482 ambulance callouts, an average of 45 patients a day. Benzodiazepines were implicated in the second highest number of ambulance callouts, with a total of 3,021. This is equivalent to 11 ambulance callouts per day and is higher than the number of cases related to heroin, cannabis and crystal meth. Other prescription medicines such as opioid analgesics, anti-psychotics and anti-depressants were also included in the top ten ambulance callouts, which highlights the potential risks of prescription medicines. (ref)...

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