New measures to reduce harm from prescription opioids

4 Jun 2020

Changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) listings for prescription opioids reforms took effect this week, reducing pack sizes and banning restricting repeat prescriptions for the treatment of non-chronic pain.   

Patients who require long-term treatment of chronic pain with opioids will still be able to access larger pack sizes, and prescribers will be able to prescribe repeats where they meet the new restrictions requirements. 

The wider opioid reforms were worked through by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) Opioids Regulatory Advisory Group (ORAG) after significant concern for the high number of hospitalisations and deaths due to pharmaceutical opioids. AMA NSW President, Dr Danielle McMullen, is the AMA representative on ORAG and the Opioids Regulatory Communications Committee (ORCC). 

AMA members have reported a lack of communication around the changes. The AMA is currently working with the Department of Health and through the ORCC on ways to improve communication to doctors when major changes to the PBS occur. This includes ensuring that communications are delivered in a timely manner, so practices and software providers are prepared for the changes. The AMA will continue to advocate for better communication, increased education and improved timelines on further changes. 

All new and amended restrictions will be updated on the PBS website from 1 June 2020.  

Information about the revised opioids PBS listing can be found here, and in last week’s edition of GPNN here.   

For more information, visit the prescription opioids website, the opioid Consumer fact sheet and the opioid Prescriber fact sheet.