Vol. 17, ed. 4

May/June 2021

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Foreword

I’m writing these words in the week of the 20th anniversary of the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) opening its doors.

To recognise this milestone, this month’s Bulletin continues the conversation with Dr Ingrid van Beek, inaugural Medical Director of the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre.

This month’s issue also explores some impacts of COVID-19 on drug availability and worker wellbeing, violence in the illicit drug world and the latest AOD treatment stats from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Several other developments are worth your attention.

On Thursday May 6, the Victorian Parliament passed the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Amendment Bill, which will enable naloxone to be supplied directly to NSP clients in Victoria.

Although at the time of writing the Bill has not become law, and there is a lot of work required to ensure Victoria’s NSPs are prepared for the changes ahead, this important reform will help naloxone get into the hands of more people who need it.

Speaking of naloxone, in a piece for the Medical Journal of Australia, Associate Professor Suzanne Nielsen and Dr Pallavi Prathivadi argue that it should be co-prescribed to people who use opioids. Data shows less than 3 per cent of all naloxone supplied is on individual PBS prescriptions, with most naloxone prescriptions accounted for by harm reduction programs.

Meanwhile, in the United States, a new study has found high rates of opioid use among people diagnosed with lingering or “long” COVID-19. The study found that for every 1,000 long-COVID patients treated at a Veterans Affairs facility, doctors wrote nine more prescriptions for opioids than they otherwise would have, along with 22 extra prescriptions for benzodiazepines.

Please send us your feedback about The Bulletin and, as always, please share it with your colleagues and friends.

I hope you enjoy the new issue.

 

John Ryan
CEO, Penington Institute