Patient safety being compromised by online prescribers

Date: 30 January 2023

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Queensland Branch is calling for better patient safety and regulation of solely online prescribers and apps. Queensland Branch President Chris Owen said we are seeing more and more online scripts written with virtually no consultation between a patient and GP.

“The problem is two-fold; the self-declared GP crisis means patient safety is being compromised as people flock to online apps and prescribers.

“There is no connectivity between these online apps and a patient’s regular GP and the patient’s current medications. As Pharmacists, we want the best possible outcome for patients, enhanced levels of medicine safety so we can reduce harm and we strongly encourage face-to-face consultations with primary healthcare providers.

“The Pharmacy Guild supports telehealth as a good option for patients when they cannot physically present to their regular GP however, the dilution to an online app with little or no contact with a health care professional is compromising patient safety.

“The regulators have to stop these online prescribing cowboys,” said Mr Owen.

Sunshine Coast Pharmacist James Lester has experienced first-hand the high-risk issues for patients and the wider community, resulting from these online prescribers and apps.

“Just this week, I came across an online script, from a doctor not located on the Sunshine Coast where my pharmacy is, requesting a dangerous quantity of a drug for an individual. Clearly, given the quantity requested, the intention was misuse and possibly trafficking in illegal drugs, post manufacture.

“Whilst checking the validity of the script, I struggled to find an immediate contact for the prescribing doctor to flag my concerns over the potential misuse of such a large quantity of a medicine with a significant street value,” said Mr Lester.

“While there is some convenience for patients who use an app or online prescribers, the risk of Doctor shopping and finding an online cowboy is increasing, especially for monitored medicines. These online apps and prescribers are clearly undermining the hard work GPs do at your local surgery seeing patients face-to-face.

“As a Pharmacist, we are dedicated to working with patients to ensure they are well-informed on the safe and correct use of their medicines, we don’t want to see people harmed.”

Contact: Kate McKay
Phone: 0435 469 751

Page last updated on: 03 February 2023