Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (18:20): (2100) My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Health and the action I seek pertains to pharmacotherapy. Methadone and buprenorphine are used in the treatment of opioid dependence, and on International Overdose Awareness Day I think it is really important to note their life-saving and life-changing potential. The prescription of methadone and buprenorphine has been proven to reduce health, social and economic harms caused by dependence on either illicit or licit opioids, most importantly reducing illness and deaths and helping people to stabilise and lead more productive lives. But these programs only work when pharmacies participate, so it is vitally important that we encourage pharmacies to provide opioid replacement therapy right across the state. Consider the implications, for example, of pharmacotherapy patients in a one-pharmacy town in regional Victoria. We are seeing this not only in regional Victoria but also amongst the suburbs in inner-city areas of Victoria, where chemists are retiring or new pharmacies are setting up and they are not interested in providing opioid replacement therapy.
Our pharmacies are pillars of our community, and let us not forget that they are also small businesses. Elsewhere across Australia other states offer financial incentives and subsidies that support pharmacies to dispense these life-saving medications. Victoria is a complete outlier in that it provides no support to pharmacies to provide opioid replacement therapy. So the action I seek is that the minister commission a stocktake of the approaches of other Australian jurisdictions in this regard and implement a best practice model for Victoria to incentivise pharmacy participation in pharmacotherapy dispensing.
Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region