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 dangers of prescription medicines and thanks to the work of organisations such as Penington Institute and ScriptWise, this important issue is being increasingly recognised. However, education alone is not enough.
The importance of RTPM on International Overdose Awareness Day
There are many health professionals who are committed to reducing the harmful consequences of prescription medication addiction. But to do this they need better clinical information at the point of care. That is why I am so proud of the tool that MediSecure has developed. DrShop is Australia’s first Real Time Prescription Monitoring [RTPM] tool and it brings clinical information to prescribing clinicians at the point of care about their patient’s previous prescription history. When it comes to prescribing medicines with a strong risk of dependency, having access to such tools and the clinical data is imperative for clinicians.
I strongly urge all clinicians to find out more about real time prescription monitoring. The implementation of RTPM has been demanded by peak medical bodies, drug and alcohol experts and Coroners across Australia as an essential step forward in addressing this escalating problem. We have made the tool available to all clinicians at no cost so there is no barrier to adoption and use.
Please help us to make a change on International Overdose Awareness Day. Find out how you can be part of the solution by visiting www.drshop.com.au