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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 7 June 2018) . . Page.. 2197 ..


experience mental illness, chronic pain and high levels of psychosocial distress. Rates of pharmaceutical misuse are also higher in disadvantaged areas. This is another important aspect of this issue, and recognition that this important measure will help protect some of the more vulnerable members of our community.

While the ACT is being proactive on this issue, we are not the first jurisdiction. Tasmania is currently the only Australian jurisdiction to have implemented a real-time prescription monitoring framework, and the early results are encouraging. Since its implementation opioid-related deaths in Tasmania have reportedly decreased from 32 in 2007 to fewer than 20 in 2013-14. While of course this is only one measure of the benefits of a scheme like this, it does show that there can be significant positive impacts.

I also briefly note that the bill does include important protections for individual privacy, including an offence provision where the information is inappropriately shared. This is an important measure that balances the right to privacy with the obvious health and social benefits that can come from a prescription monitoring scheme.

The Greens wish to thank Minister Fitzharris for her work in developing this bill. We think it will be an important addition to the tools that we currently have to respond to the misuse of prescription drugs. The Greens also, of course, look forward to seeing our system becoming more sophisticated once a national scheme has been developed and implemented. We are pleased to support this bill. We hope that it helps to reduce harm from drug use in our community.

MS FITZHARRIS (Yerrabi—Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Minister for Transport and City Services and Minister for Higher Education, Training and Research) (12.34), in reply: As Minister for Health and Wellbeing, I am pleased that the Assembly is today debating this important bill, which amends the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 2008 and the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulation 2008 to allow a monitored medicines database to be established in the ACT.

Medicines are essential to help people manage the symptoms of their illness and, in many cases, enable them to participate in everyday life. However, their misuse and abuse in Australia has significant adverse health, social and economic consequences for patients and their families as well as the wider community.

The misuse of pharmaceuticals has risen dramatically in recent years, with recent data indicating nearly five per cent of people have misused a medicine in the last 12 months. Some higher risk medicines, known as controlled medicines, can cause serious harm if they are misused or abused. All states and territories place additional controls on the access and supply of controlled medicines to minimise their potential harm.

These medicines include substances such as morphine and oxycodone, which are important to control severe pain, and dexamphetamine. This legislation is designed to


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