A Port Macquarie pharmacist is calling on the NSW state government to introduce a real-time drug prescription monitoring system, similar to the one introduced in Victoria last year.
Judy Plunkett said the system would help doctors and pharmacists address the misuse of prescription medication.
The SafeScript program was introduced in Victoria in April 2019 and allows doctors and pharmacists to access a central database of prescription records.
"We know there is a problem with people sometimes not being well-supervised with the use of opioids for pain relief and Benzodiazepines," Ms Plunkett said.
"It is already in place in Victoria from April and we (NSW Pharmacy Guild) are strongly advocating that they bring that into NSW," she said.
"What is happening is that people who have a problem with those medications are actually coming over the border because they know there is no monitoring system in NSW yet."
Ms Plunkett said the system would give "greater transparency" so doctors and pharmacists could identify people and "get them help in a coordinated way".
Ms Plunkett said there had been a spike in forged prescriptions at different pharmacies along the east coast of Australia.
"These forged prescriptions are high quality and a real time monitoring system would pick that up and stop that illicit drug use," she said.
She acknowledged community pharmacists are already doing a "good job" of helping people manage their medication, however the monitoring system was necessary given the scale of the problem.
A report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released on Tuesday, January 21 has found almost twice as many older Australians are using illegal drugs, with increasing numbers of people aged 60 and over reaching for illicit substances like cannabis and prescription medications.
The federal electorate of Cowper has the second highest number of residents over the age of 70.
You stop someone moving into problematic use early.Melinda Lucas
Alcohol and Drug Foundation spokesperson Melinda Lucas told the Port News the data was "not surprising".
"What we are seeing is an ageing cohort, we have seen this trend in the last few data sets," she said.
Ms Lucas said the report was "concerning" for a number of reasons.
"The pharmaceutical aspect is particularly concerning because what we are often looking at is people who are using opioid painkillers that in many cases might have been legitimately prescribed to manage pain or health conditions and then people find themselves unknowingly dependent on these medications and they start using them off-script or not as directed," Ms Lucas said.
"Then when you combine them with something like alcohol it puts people at a very high risk of overdose.
"There is a correlation with overdose statistics where we see pharmaceuticals are the most responsible."
She also said there were more older Australians using cannabis to "manage health conditions that has not been prescribed".
"That puts them at risk of a number of different combinations," Ms Lucas said.
Like Ms Plunkett the Drug and Alcohol Foundation is calling for a nationally consistent real-time prescription monitoring program.
"You stop someone moving into problematic use early that way," Ms Lucas said.