Drugs of dependence
An overview of what you need to know about drugs of dependence, what they are and why and how they are regulated in South Australia
ScriptCheckSA is the name of South Australia’s real time prescription monitoring computer system. ScriptCheckSA provides prescribers and pharmacists with real-time information about a patient’s use of monitored drugs when they are considering prescribing or dispensing these drugs, to ensure safer clinical decisions.
Real Time Prescription Monitoring (RTPM) uses a computer system to provide prescribers (e.g. doctors) and pharmacists with information about a patient’s use of monitored drugs when they are considering prescribing or dispensing these drugs.
ScriptCheckSA is the name of South Australia’s RTPM computer system.
Prescription drug dependence, misuse and diversion are increasing concerns both in Australia and internationally – with associated overdose and accidental death continuing to rise in Australia.
Monitored drugs include pain medications such as oxycodone, morphine and fentanyl, some medications used to manage anxiety, narcolepsy or ADHD including dexamfetamine, methylphenidate and alprazolam.
A RTPM system such as ScriptCheckSA can help reduce misuse and ensure that patients who genuinely need these medicines can still get them.
In 2018, the State Government committed $7.5 million to implement a RTPM system in South Australia and it is anticipated that ScriptCheckSA will be available for prescribers and pharmacists to use in early 2021.
ScriptCheckSA will not stop a doctor or pharmacist from prescribing or dispensing a monitored drug; this decision will remain at the professional discretion of the health practitioner.
ScriptCheckSA aims to help prescribers and pharmacists by:
Alerting prescribers and pharmacists in real-time to information about a person’s access to potentially harmful prescription drugs will allow them to make safer clinical decisions before they prescribe or dispense a monitored drug and potentially reduce the risk of death caused by preventable overdose.
ScriptCheckSA will also help SA Health regulators (Drugs of Dependence Unit) identify prescribers who are not complying with the Controlled Substances laws. Early identification of high-risk prescribing behaviour can help to reduce the risk of harm to patients from monitored drugs.
There are two parts:
ScriptCheckSA will be integrated into most existing prescribing and dispensing software and will produce real-time alerts and notifications for prescribers, pharmacists and regulators.
Prescribers and pharmacists will receive a notification if there is information in ScriptCheckSA that should be considered before a prescription for a monitored drug is written or dispensed.
For prescribers and pharmacists that don’t use software with RTPM capability, they will be able to access patient information through an Online Health Practitioner Portal or by contacting the DDU by phone (1300 652 584) or email HealthDrugsofDependenceUnit@sa.gov.au.
Only unrestricted AHPRA registered prescribers (such as doctors, nurses, dentists, and other specialists who hold an endorsement to prescribe scheduled medicines) and unrestricted AHPRA registered pharmacists involved in the patient’s care, including those working in hospitals will be able to view information in ScriptCheckSA.
The Regulator (DDU) will also have access to ScriptCheckSA via a separate Regulatory Portal.
Penalties will apply to any person who is found to be inappropriately accessing, sharing or using information obtained from ScriptCheckSA.
ScriptCheckSA will not stop a patient from obtaining their regular medicines where their doctor has identified a legitimate clinical need.
Integration of ScriptCheckSA into prescribing and dispensing software means that existing prescribing and dispensing workflows will remain unchanged. Prescribers and pharmacists will be able to access information through a direct link in the ScriptCheckSA notification.
ScriptCheckSA will not stop doctors or pharmacists from prescribing or dispensing monitored drugs. Whether it is clinically appropriate to prescribe or dispense a medication remains the professional responsibility of the treating prescriber or pharmacist.
Integration of clinical software with the NDE will also fulfil the reporting requirements of prescribers and pharmacists under the recently amended Controlled Substances (Poisons) Regulations 2011.
Education and online training about how to access and use ScriptCheckSA will be made available for prescribers and pharmacists in early 2021 prior to the state-wide release of ScriptCheckSA.
ScriptCheckSA will monitor all Schedule 8 medicines (drugs of dependence) and some Schedule 4 medicines that present an increased risk of harm, overdose or addiction when co-prescribed with drugs of dependence.
Based on current evidence, ScriptCheckSA will monitor:
Real Time Prescription Monitoring | ScriptCheckSA
Drugs of Dependence Unit