Prescribing drugs of dependence in general practice, Part A

1. Introduction
1.1 Aims
☰ Table of contents

Prescription medication misuse is a worldwide problem. In Australia, there are growing concerns about the increasing misuse and associated harms of a range of pharmaceuticals.1 Many types of medications are misused,2 particularly drugs of dependence. Of particular concern is the problematic use of benzodiazepines and prescription opioids.1,3

Reducing misuse of pharmaceutical drugs and associated harms is a national priority.4 The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has developed a series of guides on drugs of dependence to help GPs play an important role in tackling the problem.

Part A – Clinical governance framework, describes the overarching principles and strategies for use with the individual drugs of dependence guides.

1.1 Aims

This guide aims to improve the quality and safety of prescribing of drugs of dependence in general practice by:

  • helping practices develop a clinical governance framework for prescribing drugs of dependence that complements the Australian regulatory framework
  • supporting practices and GPs in the development of an environment of quality improvement and best practice with regard to drugs of dependence
  • promoting safer prescribing and non-prescribing within general practices
  • enabling the recognition of higher risk situations and offering solutions to manage these appropriately
  • bringing together tools and evaluation processes for patients with more complex problems
  • providing solutions to enable general practice to prevent and manage prescription drug misuse.

The intended impact is a reduction in adverse events associated with prescribing drugs of dependence.

  • Leong M, Murnion B, Haber PS. Examination of opioid prescribing in Australia from 1992 to 2007. Intern Med J 2009;39(10):676–81.
  • United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. World Drug Report 2014. New York: United Nations; 2014.
  • Dobbin MD. Pharmaceutical drug misuse in Australia. Australian Prescriber 2014;37(3):79–81.
  • National Drug Strategy. National pharmaceutical drug misuse framework for action 2012–2015 – A matter of balance. Canberra: NDS, 2011.  [Accessed 22 May 2015]