The Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Amendment (Real-time Prescription Monitoring) Bill 2017 establishes the legislative framework that will underpin Victoria’s real-time prescription monitoring system.

The move comes after Health Minister Greg Hunt’s 28 July announcement that the government would be moving “immediately” towards implementing a national real-time monitoring system for dangerous prescription drugs.

Victoria’s Bill will provide doctors, nurse practitioners and pharmacists with access to a system to review prescription histories of patients, monitor use of S8 medicines and monitor other high-risk medicines, including benzodiazepines.

It will also make it mandatory for prescribers and pharmacists to check the system before writing or dispensing a prescription for a high-risk medicine, with some exceptions in certain circumstances.

“Due to the limitations of the existing Commonwealth software, specific fit-for-purpose software will be built for Victorian clinicians,” says the Victorian Department of Health.

“Our legislation will allow Victoria to implement the most comprehensive real-time prescription monitoring system in Australia. We know it will save lives,” says Victorian Minister for Health Jill Hennessy.

“Through our legislation, we will be able to monitor new medicines that emerge and prevent them causing harm in the community. The system will protect Victorians now, and in the future.”

“We are taking action to ensure people misusing prescription drugs can get the support and treatment they need to beat their addiction,” says Victorian Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley.

Minister Hunt says the system will be synced with both pharmacist and GP software, providing an instant alert to pharmacists and doctors if patients have received multiple supplies of prescription-only medicines.

“There are two different front lines here – there’s the prescribers and the dispensers; the doctors and the pharmacists. And both need to be involved,” he says.

“Whether it’s the GPs or other relevant doctors, specialists, whether it’s the pharmacists or the hospitals, the drugs can be prescribed or dispensed in either location and our goal is very simple – to protect all Australians against abuse.”