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Medical Health Aged Care

RACGP urges Victorian pill testing trial

Royal Australian College of GPs 3 mins read

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has today called on the Victorian Government to heed coronial recommendations and introduce a drug testing (or “pill testing”) trial featuring fixed and mobile sites.

It comes following two Victorian coroners overnight releasing new recommendations that the Government trial a pill testing service. Previous Victorian coronial findings, including this one from State Coroner John Cain released in September last year following the tragic death of a 26-year-old man from a type of potent MDMA pill, have also called for the introduction of drug testing services.

Victoria has witnessed a spate of illicit drug overdoses in recent months, including a 23-year-old man dying after being airlifted from the Pitch Music and Arts festival in western Victoria and eight people put in a critical condition following an overdose at the Hardmission Festival.

RACGP Victoria Chair, Dr Anita Munoz, said it was time.

“Let’s do all we can stop these pointless overdose deaths from happening again and again. The Government should introduce a pill testing trial in Victoria as soon as possible,” she said.

“It seems like every other week we hear reports of young people overdosing at events such as music festivals. Now, we have yet another set of coronial recommendations urging the Government to act and introduce pill testing. We know that pill testing saves lives, so the time for talk is over, we need action.

“Early last year, the RACGP welcomed the Queensland Government announcing fixed and mobile pill testing sites to chemically test illicit drugs and check for the presence of potentially dangerous substances. The ACT has also successfully conducted pill testing at events such as music festivals and now has a fixed pill testing site. So, it is time for Victoria to follow the lead of these jurisdictions and introduce pill testing. Every day we delay is another day that people can experience overdoses and be hospitalised, or worse.”

RACGP Alcohol and Other Drug spokesperson, Dr Hester Wilson, backed Dr Munoz’s calls.

“I call on Victoria to act immediately and save lives,” she said.

“This is not about condoning illicit drug use. It is a harm minimisation measure that is proven in jurisdictions around the world to save lives. There is no use sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that people don’t use illicit drugs, it is a reality of life. Instead, we should minimise the harm and keep people as safe as possible.

“The Government should keep in mind too that pill testing sites are a great means of engaging with those who are using illicit drugs, including people in their teens and early 20’s at music festivals and other similar events. Trained staff at pill testing services can talk to them free of judgment about why they are using drugs and outline the many dangers associated with illicit drug use. In fact, many people who submit drugs for testing don’t consume them when they find out what they contain.

“Drug overdoses don’t happen to ‘other people’, it could be your son or daughter, or friend. We have the solutions; we know what to do. A punitive ‘war on drugs’ mindset gets us nowhere fast. At the end of the day – every person’s life matters.”

~ENDS

RACGP spokespeople are available for interview.


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About the RACGP

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is the peak representative organisation for general practice, the backbone of Australia’s health system. We set the standards for general practice, facilitate lifelong learning for GPs, connect the general practice community, and advocate for better health and wellbeing for all Australians.

Visit www.racgp.org.au. To unsubscribe from RACGP media releases, click here.


Contact details:
 

John Ronan
Media Adviser

Ally Francis
Media Adviser

Stuart Winthrope
Media Officer

 

Email: media@racgp.org.au (we will respond promptly to all media inquiries).

Follow us on Twitter: @RACGP and Facebook.

 

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