Nhill Millington family waits for Coroner's prescription pharmaceuticals finding

REAL-TIME CHANGE SOUGHT: Pharmacist preparing a prescription for a customer. Picture: MUSKETEER via Getty Images
REAL-TIME CHANGE SOUGHT: Pharmacist preparing a prescription for a customer. Picture: MUSKETEER via Getty Images

NHILL'S Millington family will have to wait about three months before the Coroner hands down his finding from Tuesday's inquest into real-time monitoring of prescription pharmaceuticals.

The inquest by State Coroner Judge Ian Grey was to determine the Victorian Health Department's position on the issue and determine progress made so far towards implementing a system.

Margaret and John Millington have been lobbying state and federal governments for more than seven years to change the manner in which pharmaceuticals are prescribed, controlled and dispensed.

Their son Simon died of a prescription drug overdose in 2010. He became addicted to opioids and benzodiazepines after he was seriously injured in a single-car crash in 1994. Mrs Millington said the inquest was emotionally draining.

"We were accompanied by two other families who'd lost children in similar circumstances to Simon," she said. "The first part of the inquest investigated the death of a lady who died from a mixture of prescription medication.

"One doctor prescribed her methadone without knowing she was on anti-depressants plus a lot of other medications, and the doctor prescribing her anti-depressants didn't realise she was on the methadone program," she said.

"After interviewing both doctors, the Coroner asked if real-time monitoring would have prevented her death and they said it would certainly have gone a long way to preventing it by alerting the treating doctors of what medications she was taking."

Mrs Millington said the inquest also heard from two information technology experts who discussed different options for monitoring systems.

One informed the court of options already available for doctors when prescribing and the other system was for pharmacy use.

Mrs Millington said the inquest left her with mixed emotions.

"In the morning we were hopeful all our hard work was going to pay off and we were going to get over the line," she said.

"But after hearing from the chief officer of the Department of Health's drugs and poisons unit in the afternoon, we were very disheartened. We realised we still had a long, long way to go."

Mrs Millington said the couple had not lost hope.

"It is an election year after all; we may consider taking our case to the Opposition to see where they stand on such an important issue," she said.

"The Coroner will announce his findings in three months. We will see where that leads us.

"We're grateful and very appreciative the Coroner gave us a chance to make a statement, but at the end of the day, it is still up to the government."