OTC Drug Abuse strategy

ADCA press release in full:

New Prescription Drugs Monitoring Model Opens Door to Target Alcohol Harm: The Federal Government initiative to crackdown on prescription painkiller abuse is to be applauded as the misuse of pharmaceutical drugs can result in dangerous and even fatal consequences, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA), Mr David Templeman, said today.

“ADCA recognises that prescription and over-the-counter medicines have made a significant and positive contribution to the health and wellbeing of Australians, but warns that nearly all medicines have the potential to cause harm,” Mr Templeman said.

“This new national electronic records system, effective from 1 July 2012, certainly provides doctors and pharmacists with a real-time tool that will deliver health and cost benefits to communities across Australia. Alcohol is our main drug of concern with severe health and economic consequences, much more than illicit and prescription drugs combined.”

Mr Templeman said that similar action should be taken in the alcohol environment as some people buy and use alcohol in the same way as those consumers who seek and use prescription addictive drugs.

“In fact, the introduction of the monitoring system could result in some people resorting to alcohol to self-medicate for pain relief,” Mr Templeman said.

“And the results from the excessive consumption of alcohol are similar with increases in violence, motor vehicle accidents and injury, and police recording an estimated 40 per cent of all people detained as being affected by alcohol,” Mr Templeman said.

“On average, some 1500 hospitalisations occur each week because of alcohol, and the cost to the Australian community from alcohol-related harm is estimated to be more than $36 billion a year.”

Mr Templeman said the recent fact the New South Wales Casino, Liquor, Gaming and Control Authority had approved major supermarket applications to expand their outlets, as well as not heeding objections from New South Wales Health that super-cheap alcohol would grow sales, was totally irresponsible.

“Organisations responsible for the licence approval process, as well as the alcohol industry, and all supermarket/ retail sales organisations need to consider ways to enhance the health and wellbeing of their customers,” Mr Templeman said.
“ADCA is calling for a joined-up approach to be taken with Governments at all levels to immediately address Australia’s growing drinking culture,” Mr Templeman said.

“The answer could be to modify the prescription electronic records system and link it to sales check-out screens to monitor purchasing patterns, particularly in relation to low-priced alcohol beverages, and to ensure customers are not under the legal age limit?”