National Pharmaceutical Drug Misuse Strategy

The issue of pharmaceutical misuse has been identified across Australia as an emerging problem of significant concern. Due to the need for a consolidated national response, a National Pharmaceutical Drug Misuse Strategy (NPDMS) is being developed by a consortium led by the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA) at Flinders University.

The Strategy is being developed at the request of the Ministerial Council on Drug Strategy (MCDS) and is being funded through the MCDS Cost Shared Funding Model. The project is being overseen by the Victorian Department of Health.

Development of the Strategy

The development of the Strategy will involve:

  • a review of existing Australian and international knowledge and research including relevant legislation and regulatory controls/mechanisms
  • a comprehensive national consultation process with key stakeholders in metropolitan and regional Australia, including a number of consultation forums, and
  • written submissions.

Scope of the Strategy

The Strategy will cover both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Particular focus will be given to pharmaceutical drugs subject to non-medical use, misuse and/or diversion. Priority will be given to the drugs that cause the most harm. Responses will be developed in the areas of:

  1. supply reduction
  2. demand reduction
  3. harm reduction.

Responses will aim to balance the need to prevent harm caused by misuse, while continuing to ensure that those who have a medical need can continue to access appropriate medicines. A wide-ranging consultation process is essential to the development of such a balanced strategy.


Discussion Paper & Literature Review

A discussion paper has been developed to inform the Strategy development process. It was informed by the literature review and by discussions with key experts in the area from a variety of backgrounds. The discussion paper outlines:

  • a brief overview of issues relevant to the development of Australia’s NPDMS 
  • the background and context for the initiation of a pharmaceutical misuse strategy 
  • relevant Australian and international research and data, and 
  • potential areas for prevention and remediation that may be addressed through the strategy. 

This paper is not intended to be a definitive coverage of issues; rather, it is intended to be thought provoking, stimulating and in some respects challenging. For a more comprehensive coverage of these issues, readers are invited to examine the full literature review.

The paper and literature review may be downloaded by clicking on the links below.

Consultation Process

The consultation process will provide an opportunity to address such issues as whether the discussion paper and the associated literature review:

  • contain significant gaps (for example, issues, research, information, resources and examples of good practice)
  • accurately reflect the state of play
  • reflect stakeholders’ interests and concerns, and
  • contain potential responses that are consistent with stakeholders’ perspectives.

Throughout the discussion paper key questions are posed which are intended to provoke discussion in relation to the extent and nature of pharmaceutical drug misuse and potential responses. These questions appear in red.

The time frame for consultation for the development of the Strategy is as follows:

  1. discussion paper released March 2011
  2. a national consultation process will occur between late March and early June; and
  3. written submissions will be called for mid-March to mid-May.

A sample of the submissions provided by stakeholders has been provided below. Click on the links to access pdfs.

NCETA Publications and Presentations


  • The development of Australia's National Pharmaceutical Drug Misuse Strategy: A matter of balance





Sample of Stakeholder Submissions

NCETA received many submissions from a variety of stakeholders who represented diverse interests. A sample of the submissions has been provided below. Please note that submissions have been modified to protect the identities of individuals. They have not, however, been modified in any other way. Click on the links to access pdfs. Samples of organisational submissions received:

  1. Australian Community Support Organisation
  2. Australian Drug Foundation
  3. Australian General Practice Network
  4. Australian Veterinary Association
  6. Ballarat and District Division of General Practice
  7. Consumers Health Forum of Australia
  8. Damascus Health Services
  9. Dovetail
  10. Lyndon Community and the Murdi Paaki Drug and Alcohol Network
  11. Drug and Alcohol Nurses of Australasia
  12. National Medicines Policy Committee
  13. Pharmaceutical Society of Australia
  14. Queensland Drugs and Poisons Policy and Regulation Unit
  15. The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists
  16. Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia
  17. The Pharmacy Guild of Australia
  18. Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association.

Samples of individual submissions received:

  1. Submission 1
  2. Submission 2
  3. Submission 3
  4. Submission 4
  5. Submission 5
  6. Submission 6.