Pharmacist with PS

What is Project STOP?

Project STOP is a decision-making tool for pharmacists aimed at preventing the use of pseudoephedrine-based products to manufacture methamphetamine. 

The system works by helping pharmacists to determine patients’ therapeutic needs. It also assists pharmacists to meet their mandatory record-keeping obligations for pseudoephedrine sales. 

Why is Project STOP so important?

Methamphetamine, including the highly pure form known as ‘Ice,’ is Australia’s most serious drug problem. The late 1990’s saw a marked increase in the popularity of this drug. Almost one in ten Australians now reports having tried methamphetamine. It has been estimated that there are approximately 73,000 dependent users— almost double the estimated number of regular heroin users in Australia (source: Australia Institute of Health and Welfare (2005). 2004 National Drug Strategy Household Survey. Canberra: AIHW).

Pseudoephedrine is the key and essential ingredient for the manufacture of methamphetamine. Pseudoephedrine based medications such as the cold and flu preparations sold in pharmacies have been identified as a major source of the pseudoephedrine used to manufacture methamphetamine in Australia.

How does Project STOP work?

To participate in Project STOP, your pharmacist will need to ask you for photographic identification when you request a pseudoephedrine-based product.

Project STOP operates in the following way:

  1. Upon requesting a pseudoephedrine-based product, your pharmacist asks to see an 
    acceptable form of photographic identification.
  2. Your pharmacist records your identification card number in a protected database held and operated by MedAdvisor International Pty Ltd (ABN 40 161 366 589) and its affiliates (“MedAdvisor”). This database is hosted in Australia.
  3. Your pharmacist also records the name of the product and the quantity you have requested in the database, and other details needed for mandatory record-keeping purposes.
  4. The database checks to see if your identification number was previously entered into the database within an appropriate threshold period.
  5. The pharmacist decides whether or not to supply the product based on a determination of your therapeutic needs.
  6. The database records whether or not the sale was made.

In some States and Territories it is a legal requirement for pharmacists to ask you for certain extra information (such as your name and address) when supplying  pseudoephedrine, and then make a record of this information. If you don’t provide this information, the pharmacist may not be able to sell you the requested pseudoephedrine-based product.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What happens if I refuse to provide my ID?

Quality Use of Medicines guidelines (and legislation in some States and Territories) require pharmacists to assess your therapeutic needs before supplying  pseudoephedrine based products. These guidelines ensure you are getting the most suitable product for your condition.

An important piece of information in determining genuine therapeutic need is whether or not you have purchased pseudoephedrine within appropriate levels over a given time period. Providing your identification helps your pharmacist to make this determination quickly and accurately.

If you decide not to provide your identification and take part in Project STOP, your pharmacist may consider it relevant to take this into account when considering your request for pseudoephedrine. Ultimately, your pharmacist may decide not to sell you the relevant pseudoephedrine-based product. This decision will be made by the pharmacist.

A number of alternative medications suitable for many cold and flu symptoms are available without having to provide your identification. Please ask your pharmacist for further details.

By agreeing to provide your pharmacist with your identification document and any other details required for the pharmacist’s record keeping obligations, you consent to that information being handled, stored and accessed for the purposes of Project STOP (as described in this information sheet).

How will my information be used and who will it be given to?

The information held in Project STOP is stored securely and access to it is strictly controlled and monitored.

If your identification number was previously entered into the database within the previous two years, Project STOP presents the information to the pharmacist which includes details of the previous sales (and attempted purchases) in that period, the product and quantity sold, and the location and date of each sale.

This purchase information plus your identification number (and any other mandatory information collected by the pharmacist) will be accessible by health authorities, law enforcement agencies, pharmacies participating in Project STOP and MedAdvisor.

MedAdvisor's role is limited to maintaining the database and providing Project STOP to these third parties. Project STOP is only used by these third parties for the purposes of monitoring pseudoephedrine sales and preventing the illicit use of pseudoephedrine. 

In States and Territories where regulations require the collection of other identification details (e.g. name and address) for the purposes of supplying a Schedule 3 medication (such as non-prescription pseudoephedrine products), pharmacists will also need to record that information. The pharmacists in these States and Territories use Project STOP to store these records electronically. 

How do I access the Patient Info Sheet link?

Click here to access the information sheet.