ACT Health Meegan Fitzharris finally introduced a bill to create a voluntary real-time prescription monitoring system in Canberra, after the mishandling of an attempted introduction last month.
The bill would implement one recommendation from a nine-year-long inquest into the death of Canberra man Paul Fennessy, who died due from a multiple prescription drug toxicity in the city in January 2010.
It was first announced to be introduced during the last sitting week in April, but the legislation was pulled from the agenda at the last minute as it was apparently not ready.
Under the proposed changes, doctors and pharmacists in Canberra would be able to access the government existing drugs and poisons information system (DAPIS) through an online portal in real-time.
The system will cost $729,000 over two years to set up, and was expected to begin operating in early to mid-2019, at least nine years after Mr Fennessy's death.
While all pharmacists will see the information when dispensing addictive medicines such as oxycodone and other potent Schedule 8 drugs, as would ACT Health's Health Protection Service, it would only be voluntary for doctors.
Ms Fitzharris said it was "unnecessary", given doctors were highly skilled using their judgements every day, despite documents tendered in the inquest showing Mr Fennessy accessed over 150 such prescriptions from 18 different doctors in the three years before his death.
None of those doctors sought to verify with any other general practitioners whether he was seeing others, or called the National Doctor Shopping Line, run by Medicare, to obtain such information from the Commonwealth.
But Ms Fitzharris said she wanted to "to start a conversation about whether we can implement mandatory reporting once a nationally compatible scheme is in place".
She said while a national real-time monitoring system was still on the COAG Health Council's agenda, until such time as other states - except Tasmania, the first jurisdiction to create such a system - were on board, "cross-border" issues would remain.
While health professionals have supported such schemes, many across the nation and in Canberra have indicated they need to be supported by more funding for drug and alcohol and mental health services, if those identified are to get appropriate treatment.