Students take action

Students and staff at La Trobe University Bendigo are urging community members to learn the risks associated with medications such as opioids and benzodiazepines as part of ScriptWise’s inaugural National Prevention of Prescription Medication Dependence Week from May 14-18

Students from La Trobe’s Bachelor of Pharmacy will join lecturers and local pharmacists on campus to answer questions and provide information at 12pm, Thursday 17 May, on the Student Union floor.

There will also be a public forum on prescription medication misuse, presented by local pharmacist and La Trobe lecturer, Nick Standen, at 12pm on Friday 18 May. Both events are FREE, and members of the community are welcome to attend.

In Victoria the number of people who die from prescription medication-related overdose outnumbers not only illicit drug deaths but has exceeded the road toll for the past five years.

Between 2009 and 2015 pharmaceutical overdoses accounted for approximately 84 per cent of overdose deaths in Greater Bendigo (49 of 58).

La Trobe pharmacy lecturer and local pharmacist, Nick Standen, says La Trobe is well placed to raise awareness of an issue that is increasingly having a major impact in the local community.

“On a per capita basis regional Victoria is experiencing increasing pharmaceutical-related deaths, and at a far higher rate than in metropolitan areas – and Bendigo is not exempt from that,” Mr Standen said.

“As leaders in the local region, we want to use our knowledge and influence to make a difference to the levels of awareness and understanding of this tragic problem.”

ScriptWise’s National Prevention Week also aims to promote existing prevention efforts in Australia and encourage the federal government to invest in a national public awareness campaign.

ScriptWise CEO Bee Mohamed says local communities are leading the charge to address this burgeoning health crisis but that investment in a widespread awareness campaign is essential.

“Without better education and preventative action now, we risk continuing on the same dangerous trajectory towards the devastating opioid epidemic we’re seeing in the US,” Ms Mohamed said.

“Too many families have lost loved ones to prescription medication overdoses which are entirely preventable. Early intervention won’t just save money, it’ll save lives.”

Media Contact Kate O'Conner: 0436 189 629 - k.o’