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Figures for prescription drug use questioned. Pharmacists call for review of national drug strategy



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N A T I O N A L S E C R E T A R IA T N A T I O N A L S E C R E T A R IA T

FIGURES FOR PRESCRIPTION DRUG USE QUESTIONED. PHARMACISTS CALL FOR REVIEW OF NATIONAL DRUG STRATEGY.

The National President of The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Colin Johns, today questioned figures for pharmaceutical drugs use in Australia and called for a review of the National Drug Strategy. His comments follow the weekend release of a report by the Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA) on the

use of alcohol, tobacco products and prescription drugs in this country.

"ADCA average figures for prescription drug use need further scrutiny. There are about five million families in Australia. If the ADCA’s figure is that each family uses 100 prescriptions a year, that’s over 500 million scripts.

"However the actual number of scripts dispensed in Australia each year is about

165 million. That’s internationally comparable. No doubt because of our excellent health system, the average family uses about 33 scripts a year," Mr Johns said.

"Our figures are supported by the Health Insurance Commission which pays for

75% of scripts dispensed. ADCA seems to have taken 1989 Bureau of Statistics figures based on a two week sample and made a ridiculous extrapolation," he said.

"Having said that, I endorse the Australian Medical Association’s call for a more

uniform drug education campaign. The National Strategy seems to have lost momentum and at least some direction. But we should first focus on patients and their health problems to ascertain the real extent of the problem, because pharmacists are often the first to see the consequences of substance abuse by

patients," he said.

M r Johns said, "I want to see urgent discussions between representatives of those organisations which deal first hand with patients who abuse these substances. Then we can get a clear view of the extent of the problem and work out appropriate new directions for combating substance abuse."

[C ontact: Colin Johns 018 627 856 27 June 1994] PL533

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