Use of some medicines in aged care like 'Russian roulette'

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The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia says the profession remains "deeply concerned" over the findings of the aged care royal commission in relation to medicines safety and the use of sedatives in residential aged care facilities.

"It is alarming that this issue – particularly the inappropriate use of antipsychotic medicines and the overuse of sedatives – has not improved over the past five years,” said PSA national president Associate Professor Chris Freeman.

“This is a game of Russian roulette, and unfortunately our older Australians are paying the price.”

The PSA said it is calling on the federal government ahead of the 2021-22 Budget to invest $200 million over four years to support residential aged care facilities to directly engage pharmacists.

"Embedding pharmacists in aged care facilities will improve aged care medication management, ultimately reducing medicine-related harm amongst residents," said Freeman.

“Some of the stories heard by PSA are truly horrifying. The most heartbreaking aspect of this is that these problems are largely avoidable,” he continued.

“Medicines are developed, prescribed and dispensed to support good health – and when used properly, have the potential to greatly improve quality of life. But when used incorrectly, they can cause more harm than good, and in the most devastating of circumstances, ultimately lead to death.”

“We need a stronger connection between health care and aged care, and pharmacists, as the custodians of medicine safety, can help bridge this divide.

"The government must act by embedding pharmacists in residential aged care facilities before it is too late for some of our aged care residents,” added Freeman.