Credit: ACT Health Directorate
The Australian Capital Territory government has rolled out its new real-time prescription monitoring system that will assist doctors and pharmacists in prescribing or dispensing monitored medicines.
Canberra Script is a web-based portal that will replace the existing Drugs and Poisons Information System Online Remote Access (known as DORA), which has operated since 2019.
This digital tool will provide information about controlled medicines (schedule 8) and some prescription-only medicines (schedule 4) that are associated with abuse or misuse, such as Benzodiazepines. Doctors can also seek approval from the chief health officer through the portal to prescribe controlled medicines. 
In a media release in May last year, the ACT Health Directorate mentioned that Canberra Script will include real-time alerts and notifications that inform health professionals of signs their patients are exhibiting drug-seeking behaviour, such as doctor shopping. 
WHY IT MATTERS
Implementing Canberra Script will help medical professionals make safe and effective prescription decisions. It will also enable them to better identify and support patients who may be at risk of harm or dependency on prescription medicines. 
The past decade saw growing deaths in Australia attributed to drug use, including overdose and chronic use. Preliminary data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that there were nearly 2,000 drug-induced deaths in 2020, with the rate being higher in regional areas than in capital cities. About two-thirds of deaths were considered accidental and the rest as intentional. 
“It’s important for those prescribing and dispensing medications to know what other medications the patient is on or has recently taken, as some medicines can be harmful when taken in high doses or in combination with other medicines,” ACT Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said in the latest media release.
Still, “​​Canberrans should be reassured that the system will not disadvantage patients who have a clinical need for a medicine,” the minister said.
THE LARGER TREND
Canberra Script is part of the broader rollout of the latest national RTPM system across the country. In April last year, South Australia launched its own system called ScriptCheckSA. NSW Health, meanwhile, is still in the first phase of implementation of its SafeScript NSW system which began in November. Moreover, the Northern Territory is set to go live with the NTScript some time this month.
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