MUNDIPHARMA submission document (Word 38 KB)

National Drug Strategy Consultation Paper
Mundipharma Pty Ltd was established in Australia in 1998 and in New Zealand in 2005. We
are currently Australia’s largest distributor of controlled drugs such as strong analgesics
including MS Contin, Norspan and OxyContin. As such, Mundipharma shares the
Intergovernmental Committee on Drugs National Drug Strategy Development Working
Group’s concerns around the increasing misuse and abuse of prescription pharmaceuticals.
For many years Mundipharma have been urging the previous and current Federal
Governments and all State Governments for a real-time national database for all
prescriptions (PBS and private ones) for controlled drugs at the point of dispensing. Such a
database could help doctors and pharmacists to identify doctor shoppers and, equally
importantly, provide a point of contact with a health professional who can encourage the
individuals concerned to seek appropriate medical help.
We continue to be extremely concerned that the existing Medicare Australia’s “Prescription
Shopping Information Service” does not seem to stem the growing illicit drug market. The
problem with this hotline is that;
It only captures information on PBS prescriptions and excludes prescriptions under
the current patient co-payment and private prescriptions, the latter being a
potentially important source of illicit prescription medicines.
It is retrospective, often by several weeks after the event of supply.
An inquiry by a potential prescriber is only initiated, if at all, if the prescriber has
grounds to suspect that there is a problem with a particular patient.
It relies on a potential prescriber of psychoactive drugs having the time in a busy
schedule to phone the service.
There is no provision for information about prescription shoppers to be
communicated to State or Territory agencies working to address problems of
prescription drug seeking behaviour.
One of the consequences of this current hotline is that doctor shopping remains an
unfortunate community issue and, we believe, has become a major source of prescription
drugs entering the illicit drug market. Most of these prescriptions are being subsidised by
the tax payer funded PBS.
A real-time national database will help identify doctor shoppers and protect doctors and
pharmacists from being deceived by fraudulent patients for two reasons:
 It is difficult for doctors to distinguish between genuine pain sufferers and a
fraudulent doctor shopper, in particular if the patient is not known to the doctor.
The database will allow a doctor to look up previous prescription history before
writing another script.
 It can be difficult for pharmacists to detect if scripts are genuine or not. The data
base will allow pharmacists to double check whether a particular patient has had
similar scripts dispensed in other pharmacies.
There are other examples of successful prescription drug tracking systems such as the
Pharmacy Guild’s Project Stop and a second system called PharmaNet which has been
successful in identifying doctor shoppers in British Columbia/Canada for over ten years.
Working in partnership is essential for success and Mundipharma is in a unique position to
add to the discussions taking place, and would be pleased to share its ideas, views and
current actions in the area of Quality Use of its Medicines. We look forward to being
involved with health, law enforcement and education in rolling out the Strategy and doing
what we can to contribute to minimising the harm to those individuals who would seek to
abuse prescription medicines.