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July 5, 2018

QUEENSLAND CORONER’S FINDINGS OF INQUEST INTO PRESCRIPTION OPIOID DEATHS

The Coroners Court of Queensland recently published the findings of inquest into four prescription opioid deaths. The inquest considered the four deaths to be representative of a larger trend of increasing prescription opioid deaths in Queensland and elsewhere in Australia.  The Coroner made a number of recommendations, many relating to the monitoring of prescription opioid use by prescribers like GPs or hospitals. The inquest also considered various measures to prevent "doctor shopping" and the inappropriate prescribing of opioids. The Coroner recommended the implementation of a real-time prescription monitoring system that would allow doctors and other health professionals to determine if a person was accessing other prescription opioids.  There were a range of other recommendations including educating GPs, restricting the promotion of opioids to doctors, and pharmacists to consider strategies such as staged supply of prescription opioids where appropriate.

Download the Coroners Court of Queensland Findings of Inquest (675KB PDF)

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July 5, 2018

QUEENSLAND MEDICATION-ASSISTED TREATMENT OF OPIOID DEPENDENCE: CLINICAL GUIDELINES 2018

Queensland Health have released the "Queensland Medication-Assisted Treatment of Opioid Dependence: Clinical Guidelines 2018." These guidelines represent a revision of Queensland opioid treatment with the term 'medication-assisted treatment of opioid dependence' (MATOD) being used to signify a more encompassing approach that includes the use of medication and psychosocial support in combination. The 2018 guidelines include an expanded section covering poly-substance use with the addition of nicotine, cannabis and benzodiazepines, quick reference guides and the inclusion of opioid treatment program (OTP) clinic case reviews. Also updated are the psychosocial support options and the guidelines around opioid treatment for clients under the age of 18.

Download the "Queensland Medication-Assisted Treatment of Opioid Dependence: Clinical Guidelines 2018" (2.3MB PDF)

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May 31, 2018

DRUG AND ALCOHOL REVIEW- NALOXONE EDITION: FREE ACCESS

Drug and Alcohol Review (the peer reviewed journal of the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs - APSAD) have dedicated their May 2018 open access edition to naloxone - the medication which reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. This issue includes an overview of take-home naloxone in Australia, some of the findings and lessons learnt from the rescheduling and implementation phase and how the evidence base is developing on administering take-home naloxone.

Read the May 2018 edition of Drug and Alcohol Review here.

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April 13, 2018

A TRIP THROUGH THE GARDEN EPISODE 3: OPIUM POPPIES

Opium poppies (Papaver somniferum) contain a number of opiates including morphine, codeine, thebaine and more.  The seeds from opium poppies sometimes have small traces of opiates on the outside shell of the seed. Occasionally, services may encounter people who are attempting to extract the opiates from opium poppies or seeds, which can result in overdose or dependence. In this video, Cameron describes some of the main constituents of opium poppies, how they are used, and some of the risks and harms.

Click here to watch "A trip through the garden episode 3: Opium poppies" (2min 45sec)

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January 19, 2018

CHANGES TO OVER-THE-COUNTER CODEINE FROM 1ST OF FEBRUARY 2018

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has announced that from 1 February 2018, all medicines containing codeine will require a prescription due to the up-scheduling of codeine. NPS Medicinewise has published information and resources for health professionals as well as consumer/ patient fact sheets on the new rules for medicines containing codeine written in English and plus a range of community languages. There is also information for clients regarding access to codeine for Australians in rural and remote areas.

 

Find out more here.

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November 30, 2017

QUEENSLAND UNISHARP 1ML SYRINGE LAUNCH

Last year we blogged a story from the Anex Bulletin about the introduction of the Korean made 1ml Terumo syringes that have been causing problems for people who inject. Needle and Syringe Programs around the country began receiving complaints about the new syringes including blunt or weak needles and difficult-to-use plungers.  You can read about it here.


In response to this issue a new range of 1ml syringes have been released in Australia and the Queensland launch for the new Unisharp 1ml Syringe happened this week. Andrew Preston, Managing Director of Exchange Supplies has presented a one hour webinar for Insight Queensland explaining the history of the Unisharp coloured syringes and provides all the information needed for workers supporting clients who are injecting drug users.

You can watch it here.

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November 24, 2017

PRESCRIPTION KILLER: AUSTRALIA'S IMMINENT FENTANYL EPIDEMIC

ABC Radio National's "Background Briefing" has broadcast a radio documentary titled "Prescription killer: Australia's imminent fentanyl epidemic". Fentanyl and its derivatives killed over 20 000 people in the United States in 2016, and new research is showing increasing numbers of Australians are dying from fentanyl overdose. In the past, fentanyl has been prescribed mostly for late stage cancer pain. However, there is evidence that it is increasingly being prescribed for other types of pain, leading to increased availability in the community.

Go to "Prescription Killer: Australia's imminent fentanyl epidemic"

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September 22, 2017

THE SOCIAL LIFE OF OPIOIDS

An article has been published in the magazine "Scientific American" which we think will be of interest to Dovetail subscribers.  "The Social Life of Opioids"describes a number of articles that look at the links between social factors and opioid dependence.  One article referenced includes a study that showed that for every 1% increase in unemployment in the United States, opioid overdose death rates would rise by 4%.  Another study found U.S. counties with the lowest levels of social capital had the highest rates of opioid overdose death.

Go to "The social life of opioids"

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September 15, 2017

OPIOID OVERDOSE FACT SHEET AND RESPONSE PLAN

The Community Overdose Prevention and Education initiative is funded by the Victorian government, and is designed to improve community understanding and responses to opioid overdose.  They have recently developed a handy fact sheet on opioid overdose, which includes risk factors that can contribute to overdose, signs and symptoms, and a response plan that includes first aid and naloxone administration.

Download the "Opioid Overdose Fact Sheet and Response Plan" (1.6MB PDF)

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August 25, 2017

REDUCING DEPENDENCE ON OPIOID PAINKILLERS IN RURAL AND REGIONAL AUSTRALIA

The Conversation recently published an article titled "How we can reduce dependency on opioid painkillers in rural and regional Australia?" The article discusses the unique challenges faced by people living in rural and remote communities in accessing support for opioid dependence.  Issues related to a lack of services or long travel times to treatment, as well poor help seeking and a general lack of knowledge around the limitations of opioid treatment for chronic pain were all noted as some of the barriers. However, services have been looking at innovative ways to provide support to our rural communities through the use of technology. Telehealth chronic pain initiatives as well as online websites with education for chronic pain sufferers as well as training for community workers have been developed to help close the opioid treatment service gap.

Go to "How we can reduce dependency on opioid painkillers in rural and regional Australia?"

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