Caution urged on tracking of addictive drug prescriptions

The proposed reporting system for potentially addictive drugs such as morphine is worthwhile if it provides opioids - schedule eight drugs - to those with a genuine need for them, says Dr Fiona Shand from the University of New South Wales' Black Dog Institute.

But if patients are detected "doctor shopping" - visiting different GPs and chemists to fulfil multiple drug scripts - doctors need to respond appropriately, she says.

"Clearly, if a person has been doctor shopping it may be that their pain is not well managed or that they have developed a dependence on the drug and they actually need professional assistance with that," Dr Shand said.

There were also concerns that if patients dependent on prescription opioids could no longer access those drugs, they would simply switch to other illicit or prescription substances, Dr Shand said.

"We want to see prescription opioids available to people who need them," she said.