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Review of the National Medicines Policy

PCA welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the review of the National Medicines Policy (NMP). Palliative care patients rely on medicines for a significant component of their care to manage and control their pain and symptoms associated with their life-limiting illness/es. And PCA has a key interest in ensuring the success of the National Medicines Policy. While supporting the direction outlined in the Review Consultation Paper, PCA highlighted:

  • Specific references are required in the NMP regarding the prescription of and access to pain medications for people with life limiting illnesses receiving palliative care.
  • The role of carers needs to be emphasised. Carers play a key role in the provision of palliative care, and this extends to the management of medications for the person with a life limiting illness.
  • Prescribing clinicians need clear guidelines, access to ongoing education, and transparent information relating to the regulations in prescribing opioid medications to palliative care patients. In an effort to reduce inappropriate prescribing that can lead to harm from misuse and abuse of opioids, palliative care patients are being placed at risk of unintended harm through reduced or ceased opioid prescribing.
  • Multiple suppliers in a given market can improve access to essential medications and decreases the monopolising of a market segment.
  • Equity needs to be a guiding principle including in clinical trials for emerging symptom control medications.
  • National real time monitoring of opioid prescriptions will improve patient safety and support appropriate prescribing of pain medications for patients receiving palliative care.
  • PCA recommends scheduled reviews of the Palliative Care Schedule of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and improved collection and reporting to capture the broader range of medicines prescribed for and used by palliative care patients.
  • Given the significant role of residential aged care in the management of people with life-limiting illnesses, it is important to identify residential aged care as a key stakeholder and partner in the NMP and its review.
  • Pharmacists are a key part of the palliative care workforce.

Download the PCA Submission to DoH Review of the National Medicines Policy 2021 here.

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