Time’s up for online script mills – UPDATED

2 minute read

The Medical Board is on the case of ‘tick and flick’ telehealth operators.

New rules for telehealth companies prescribing drugs will be released by the Medical Board of Australia (MBA) this week, and can’t come soon enough, according to the president of the RACGP.

WEDNESDAY PM UPDATE: Here they are. More to come.

As reported by TMR in March, services like Eucalyptus, which owns telehealth-only brands Pilot, Kin, Software and Juniper, and Midnight Health, were writing scripts for GLP-1 drugs without seeing or even speaking in real time to the patient, or confirming their identity.

MBA chair Dr Anne Tonkin said it was “just a matter of time” before someone died or had a serious adverse event after receiving a script from what she called “a tick-and-flick exercise”.

The MBA is expected to release new regulations for the sector later this week.

Dr Nicole Higgins told TMR this morning that she had met with the MBA last week and completely agreed with Dr Tonkin’s assessment of the risk.

“Prescribing medications is never just about writing a script,” she said.

“You have to take into account that patient’s history, educate them about dosage and how to take the drug, and what to expect in terms of side-effects.

“One of the big things about training to be a GP is learning when to say ‘no, this is not safe for you’,” she said. “You don’t have to be a GP to be working in these services. Any doctor is able to prescribe.”

AHPRA is investigating telehealth companies after receiving what is believed to be over 500 complaints about the online industry so far this financial year, a 400% jump since 2019-20.

Professor Steve Robson, president of the AMA, told TMR he had “enormous concerns” about the “totally remote interactions” typical of the online prescription services.

“Our sense is that this must never replace the foundational relationship between a doctor and patient that is so important to quality care,” he said.

“The people who are developing these services and apps are entrepreneurs and it’s very possible their expectations are vastly different to those of patients and doctors.

“We need to make sure we are getting the regulatory settings right, so we can minimise the risks.”

End of content

No more pages to load

Log In Register ×