NPS Media Releases – Resource for Drug Misuse

22 OCTOBER 2015

To reduce the harm from inappropriate use of pharmaceuticals, health professionals and consumers need to be equipped to use medicines with potential for misuse in safe and appropriate ways. To support this need, NPS MedicineWise has launched a new online learning course, Drug misuse: implications for pharmacists’.

This free Group 2 CPD accredited activity forms part of a wider suite of materials developed under the National Pharmaceutical Drug Misuse Framework for Action (NPDMF), which is part of the Department of Health’s National Drug Strategy.

NPS MedicineWise CEO Dr Lynn Weekes emphasises that the problems associated with the misuse of medicines are complex and require a multi-layered response.

“As frontline healthcare professionals, pharmacists are well-positioned to contribute to reducing and preventing the misuse of pharmaceutical drugs and associated harms in Australia,” says Dr Weekes.

“The new NPS MedicineWise learning course is intended to help pharmacists to enhance the quality use of these important medicines without increasing stigmatisation or limiting accessibility for therapeutic use.

“The module reinforces users’ knowledge of the vital role pharmacists play in ensuring quality use of medicines in Australia and preventing potentially harmful medicines use. Video and interactive case studies are incorporated to deliver a practical guide that can help pharmacists to communicate with patients and prescribers about pharmaceutical misuse.” 

The focus is on preventing harmful use of pharmaceutical opioids, including over-the-counter codeine-containing preparations, and benzodiazepines, as these classes are associated with the greatest harm in Australia.

After completing the online course, pharmacists will be able to:

*  describe the problem being addressed by the National Drug Misuse Framework for Action and how pharmacists can be part of the solution

*  discuss the warning signs of drug misuse and what can be done in response

*  discuss their role in the patient care team in ensuring quality use of medicines of dependence

*  identify four conversation starters to use in their practice when discussing sensitive issues with patients

*  describe ways to make their pharmacy more conducive to difficult conversations.

“Pharmacists are uniquely placed to pick up on nuances that may indicate there is a problem. They have a duty of care to intercept where there may be a problem, and have a professional responsibility to upskill in this area,” says Dr Weekes.

A comprehensive range of evidence-based information on conditions associated with pharmaceutical drug misuse can be found on the NPS MedicineWise website, including:

*  Unexpected deaths from legitimate opioid prescribing

*  Accidental fentanyl exposure in children can be fatal

*  Do benzodiazepines increase the risk of dementia?

*  Benzodiazepine dependence: reduce the risk

The October 2015 issue of Australian Prescriber focuses on pharmaceutical misuse and is compelling reading for health professionals.

To access the ‘Drug misuse: implications for pharmacists’ online learning course, go to 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *