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Obtaining_info Dr Shoppers

Obtaining_info Dr Shoppers

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Published by: syclik on Apr 23, 2011
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Department of Human Services – Prepared May 2006
This summary is prepared by the Drugs and Poisons Regulation Group (DPRG) to assist medical practitionerswho wish to seek information and/or advice about suspected drug-seeking patients. The summary has beenprepared following consultation with officers from Medicare Australia (formerly HIC).
At Any Time
Medicare Australia now operates the Prescription Shopping Information Service, 24 hours a day and7 days a week. However, to obtain information from the service, a medical practitioner must firstobtain an individual Access Number, by forwarding the appropriate Registration Form to MedicareAustralia (see bottom of page 2 for website)
Phone the information service
1800 631 181 (free call)
Quote your full name, date of birth and
Access Number
Supply the patient’s full name, Medicare number and date of birth.
Medicare Australia will be able to inform you whether the patient has been identified underthe criteria
of the Prescription Shopping Project / Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
The criteria relate to a person having obtained more than a specified number of 
and/or havingobtained
items from six or more prescribers (excluding specialists) in a 3-month period.
Some drug-dependent (or other drug-seeking) persons may not be identified because theMedicare Australia information service:
to PBS items -
including (many) less-expensive medications for which thereis no co-payment unless patients hold entitlement cards.
relate to “private” prescriptions, for which there is no co-payment.
Does not include PBS items that have been supplied but have yet to be claimed by thepharmacist and/or processed by Medicare Australia.
relate to the provision of methadone or buprenorphine to opiate-dependentpatients.
What Next?
Where there is
reason to believe
a person is a
drug-dependent person
, a medical practitioner
notify the Department of Human Service (DHS) Drugs and Poisons Regulation Group (
)in the prescribed form.This is essential because legislation that governs the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme strictly limitsthe information that can be released and DHS does not have access to PBS information.
Notification of a drug-dependent person is a lawful requirement, which provides importantinformation for the DPRG. This data enables DPRG Officers to assist prescribers who might seekadvice or apply for a permit to treat a person. Copies of the Notification Form (DP1) can beobtained from the DPRG website
More Information?
If a patient is willing to sign a Voluntary Information Release Form, a prescriber will be able toobtain some retrospective, quantitative information from Medicare Australia. This course of action isstrongly recommended (by DPRG)
a prescriber proposes to continue treating a person who hasbeen identified by the Prescription Shopping Information Service.Medical practitioners should remember that they can also telephone the
Help Line on
1300364 545
option 2
), between 9.00 am and 4.30 pm Monday to Friday, to discuss theirconcerns or to seek information about specific patients.The DPRG holds contact details of prescribers who hold permits to treat patients with Schedule 8poisons, including patients receiving methadone or buprenorphine to treat opiate-dependence. TheDPRG also has information of many aliases that have reportedly been used by drug-seeking patientsand details of forged prescription reports. Information held by the DPRG is not limited to drugs that arePBS items.
: The collection, storage and disclosure of information by the DPRG are governed by legislation including theHealth Records Act, 2001. Information held by the DPRG about any patient will only be released to a prescriberwho possesses a legitimate need to access that information in the treatment of their patient.
To Prescribe (or not)?
Only the medical practitioner can decide whether (or not) to prescribe a drug of dependence for aperson; DPRG and Medicare Australia can only provide information or advice that might assist themedical practitioner in reaching a decision.Having sought information and/or advice from DPRG, the medical practitioner is encouraged to considerthe following points:
A patient with a valid therapeutic need for drugs of dependence
have a principalmedical practitioner managing or attempting to manage the patient’s medication regime.
Concurrent prescribing by other medical practitioners may be detrimental to the patient.
The problem of drug-dependence is
restricted to illicit drug users.
The fact that a person has a demonstrable therapeutic need for a drug of dependence doesnot preclude the possibility that the person is drug-dependent.
Drug-seeking activities are not limited to drug-dependent persons; some people have beenfound to be involved in extensive drug-seeking activities to obtain drugs for subsequent re-sale. Stimulants, anabolic steroids, benzodiazepines, narcotic analgesics and many otherdrugs are often sought for unlawful diversion.
The success of “drug-seeking” activity is often facilitated by the fact that many GP’s prescribethe maximum PBS quantity when consulted by patients who claim that their “regularprescriber” is not available and present themselves at a time when it is difficult to contact theregular prescriber or the DPRG.
Please be aware that you are NOT obliged to prescribe the maximum PBS quantity and that doing so may be detrimental – especially when the patient’s principal prescriber is unaware of the additional medication.
Key Contact Details
The Prescription Shopping Information Service
Registration Form
(to obtain an AccessNumber) and the
Voluntary Agreement
for PBS Information Form may be located, at theMedicare Australia website (
) in the section forPrograms & Services, Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
To obtain clinical advice from specialist consultants, Health Professionals (only) may phonethe Drug and Alcohol Clinical Advisory Service (
) on
9416 3611
1800 812804
For 24-hour confidential drug and alcohol counselling and treatment information, patients,family or health professionals may phone
Direct Line - 1800 888 236

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