Wednesday, April 12, 2017
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has outlined its opposition to the Optometry Board of Australia (OBA)’s proposed changes to the Endorsement for scheduled medicines registration standard (the Standard).
The OBA is seeking to remove the list of specific Schedule 4 medicines that optometrists, who hold a scheduled medicines endorsement, are able to obtain, possess, administer, prescribe and supply. Under the proposal, the list will instead be attached to the Guidelines for endorsement for use of scheduled medicines.
However, after the OBA issued a request for public comment on the proposed changes, the AMA released an open letter opposing the change.
“Administrative efficiency should not compromise patient safety. No evidence has been provided to support the claim that patient access to appropriate eyecare has been compromised because the list is attached to the Standard or that removing the list from the Standard will enhance delivery of care,” the letter, signed by AMA senior policy advisor Georgia Morris, stated.
“Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council approval of the Standard and the list is an important measure ensuring that there is additional scrutiny at the highest level of any changes to the list of S4 medicines within an optometrist’s scope of practice.”
However, an OBA spokesperson said having the list of Schedule 4 medicines attached to the Standard was restrictive as any changes to it required Ministerial Council approval.
“The process of seeking Ministerial Council approval involves considerable time and resources. This process is necessary to both remove scheduled medicines that are no longer available as well as to add newly available medicines, and the timeframes involved may inadvertently delay the public’s ability to access up to date medications from an endorsed optometrist,” the spokesperson said.
“The board proposes to publish the list of the medications currently in the approved classes in the Guidelines for use of scheduled medicines. This will allow for a transparent and efficient mechanism to keep the list of medications up to date, while ensuring sufficient consultation with relevant key professional bodies.”
According to the proposal, the OBA’s Scheduled Medicines Advisory Council (SMAC) – a multidisciplinary committee of medical practitioners, pharmacists and optometrists – would monitor the content of the list in each class approved by the Ministerial Council and advise the board when the list needs to be updated.
Submissions on the proposed changes closed on March 31.