A two-year pill testing trial proposed by the Victorian Greens would be inexpensive and save on the costs associated with drug-related admissions to the emergency department.
The trial would establish both a mobile pill testing facility for festivals and a fixed-site laboratory for more detailed analysis.
Both sites would be licensed for two years with the potential for a four-year extension following a review.
According to an exclusive PBO costing obtained by the Greens, the operating, staffing and testing costs associated with the pill testing services would amount to only $1.3 million per year, while the testing equipment and establishment of the sites would amount to $1.2 million dollars.
The Victorian Greens believe that the Government could borrow existing equipment to reduce this cost.
Member for Brunswick, Dr Tim Read, said the introduction of a pill testing trial in Victoria would not only be cost-effective, but more importantly tell Victorians that the Government takes the health of young people seriously.
The pill testing trial would help to reduce the number of drug-related deaths in Victoria and protect people from the harm of illicit drug use.
If pill testing stopped one young person from dying every couple of years, it would be worth it. And at $1.3 million per year, even the accountants would call it cost-effective.*
Further cost savings would flow from preventing hospital admissions, which can often cost tens of thousands of dollars. The mean cost for a patient per day in an intensive care unit is approximately $5,000.
*Cost effective at $50,000 per life-year saved if it saved 26 life-years at a cost of $1.3m/year.
Quotes attributable to Dr Tim Read, Victorian Greens Spokesperson for Health:
“Everyone deserves to enjoy music festivals safely but Victoria’s out-of-date and punitive drug laws are putting those who enjoy festivals at risk.
“Pill testing reduces harmful drug use and connects young people to harm reduction services.
“There is 20 years of evidence from the UK, Europe, North America, and two successful trials in Canberra that clearly shows pill testing protects young people – the NSW Coroner is even expected to officially recommend it.
“It’s surprising Victoria’s Labor Government is as fixed as the NSW Liberal Government in rejecting the evidence in favour of pill testing.
“We’ve got the research to back pill testing and now we know it’s affordable, so there’s no reason for the Government to continue dragging its feet.
“Let’s make pill testing in Victoria a reality by 2020.”