Real-Time Monitoring

National Mandatory Real-Time Prescription Monitoring


National mandatory real-time prescription monitoring would save lives by ensuring that health professionals can make more informed decisions about their patients’ care.


With the click of a mouse, health professionals will have access to essential information about their patients’ medications, enabling them to make clinical decisions in accordance with the recommended practices for medications that carry a risk of dependence, addiction and overdose.


ScriptWise is proud to join those personally effected by prescription medication misuse and overdose, and the many health organisations who also strongly advocate for real-time prescription monitoring. These organisations include the:


                + Australian Medical Association

                + Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

                + Pharmaceutical Society of Australia

                + Pharmacy Guild of Australia


National mandatory real-time prescription monitoring will protect Australians by preventing the known harms of prescription medication misuse.

Commonly Asked Questions


What is real-time monitoring?

Real-time prescription monitoring is an online service that enables doctors and pharmacists to look at which potentially dangerous and/or addictive medications their patients have recently been given or prescribed.

Why will real-time monitoring help?

It is common for people using opioid medications such as morphine and oxycodone (Schedule 8 medications) to become dependent and/or addicted to them.


About 1 in 10 Australians who recently used opioids or benzodiazepines for non-medical purposes said they couldn’t stop or reduce their use, even if they wanted to.


This happens because the body can develop a tolerance to these medications which lessens their effectiveness and means more and more is needed to get the same pain relief. This often leads community members to seek these painkillers out from multiple pharmacies or doctor surgeries.


The media often refers to these community members as ‘doctor shoppers’ when in reality, these Australians have a common health disease: an addiction they are desperate to control.


A national real-time monitoring system therefore acts as a tool doctors and pharmacists can use to make an informed decision about how to help, and treat, a patient who appears to be dependent or addicted to prescription medications.


This is why it is essential that a national real-time monitoring system also include appropriate training for health professionals regarding how to ensure their patients with a dependence or addiction are kept safe and on the road to recovery.

Why does the system need to be national?

Many families live on the border between states and territories within Australia. State-based real-time monitoring systems which do not integrate, will be unable to identify people travelling to get medication.


A national system means no one will fall through the cracks.

Why does the system need to be mandatory?

In order for real-time monitoring to be most effective, it must be active in all pharmacies and doctor surgeries across Australia. Otherwise, it will be possible for people with a dependence or addiction issue to travel to health services which don’t use the system, rendering it useless.

Which medications should be included?

It is essential that the list of prescription medicines on the Schedule 8 of the Poisons Schedule (which includes pharmaceutical opioids) be included in a national real-time monitoring system given the high risks of harm associated with their use such as misuse, dependence and addiction.


It is also important to include certain Schedule 4 prescription medicines such as benzodiazepines in real-time monitoring, particularly given the harms associated with misuse.


In 2017, the Victorian government commissioned a review of the harms associated with Schedule 4 medications. The report by Austin Health, which was also supported by recommendations from an expert advisory group, saw the inclusion of all Schedule 4 benzodiazepines, such as diazepam, ‘Z-drugs’ such as zolpidem and zopiclone and quetiapine (an antipsychotic drug) in the Victorian real-time monitoring system, SafeScript.

When will we see a national prescription monitoring system?


ScriptWise has been advocating for national prescription monitoring since we formed in 2014. Tireless family members and advocates such as Margaret and John Millington, and Kim Ledger (the father of the late Heath Ledger) have thrown their support behind this essential investment.


Currently, the Turnbull Government has committed to investing over $16 million to deliver the national roll-out of real-time prescription monitoring. As of yet, there is no associated date or plan for this roll-out, and it is unclear whether the system would be mandatory or which medications it would include.


Prescription monitoring in Australia has a long history:


+ Real-time was first recommended in 1980 by the Australian Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drugs.

+ Since 2012, there have been over 30 coronial findings in Victoria alone which have recommended or provided support for RTPM

+ Tasmania was the first state in Australia to implement a real-time prescription monitoring system, which is called DORA.

+ In 2012, the Commonwealth Government bought and updated DORA, calling it the Electronic Recording and Reporting of Controlled Drugs (ERRCD).

+ In 2013, the federal government then provided the ERRCD to all  states and territories.


Despite this, all states except for Tasmania, and now Victoria in 2018, have not implemented real-time monitoring.


Achieving the national roll-out of prescription monitoring will remain a key advocacy goal for ScriptWise.