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
), 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
(to obtain an AccessNumber) and the
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 (
For 24-hour confidential drug and alcohol counselling and treatment information, patients,family or health professionals may phone
Direct Line - 1800 888 236