An authority on pain medicine is urging the government to take Australia's lead in rolling out a national online system to monitor prescriptions for morphine-like drugs to stop addicts "doctor shopping".
Dr David Jones, who's on the council of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists, says the system would also help doctors manage the dosage and type of opioids given to patients with severe pain.
"Patients often don't know which medication they are on, especially when they go between hospital and community services, so doctors may prescribe them a different medicine," he told NZ Newswire.
The current "antiquated" system of triplicate paper copies is about 50 years old and requires pharmacists to send a hard copy of the prescription to Ministry of Health's medicines control department, he says.
He wants New Zealand to follow Australia where an online monitoring system is due to be up and running by July.
"I've been involved with a couple of cases of a doctor before a disciplinary tribunal for serious over-prescribing of opioids by inappropriate routes.
"Not until somebody made a complaint about the doctor did they go get the data out. There is no pro-active component at all, but something that could be flagged easily with an online system."
Dr Jones says the online system - which should cost less than $5 million - needs to be implemented before misuse of opioid prescription becomes more widespread, as in other countries.
"I have no doubt it could become a problem if we don't do positive things soon, if not yesterday, to make sure our control over controlled drugs is maintained."
He says although "doctor shopping" - where patients go from doctor to doctor seeking opioid prescriptions - isn't a major problem, all prescribing doctors have likely come across it a few times.A Ministry of Health spokeswoman told NZ Newswire the department will follow the Australian system "with interest" to see whether it works before deciding to implement it here.
Could Wellington's plan to help homeless beggars succeed?Vote
Copyright © 2013 Yahoo! New Zealand
All rights reserved.
Select your region to see news and weather for your area.