A two-year pill testing trial proposed by the Victorian Greens would cost under $4 million total, saving on the costs associated with drug-related admissions to emergency departments.
Back in August, we reported on the Victorian Greens’ push for a pill testing trial in the state next year, urging Victorian Premier Daniel Andrew to reconsider his stance against a trial. The push came after growing public support for pill testing, and two successful trials at Canberra Groovin’ the Moo.
The trial would set up a mobile pill testing facility for use at festivals, as well as a fixed site laboratory for more extensive analysis, with both sites licensed for an initial two year period and possible extension following review.
Now, according to an exclusive PBO costing obtained by the Greens, we know the trial would cost approximately $3.8 million – the operation, staffing and testing cost of the services amounting to $1.3 million per year, with the equipment and establishment of the sites costing $1.2 million overall.
That cost could be reduced if, as the Victorian Greens believe, the Government could borrow existing equipment.
Of course, there’s plenty of ethical arguments for the trial – as Greens Member for Brunswick Dr. Tim Read points out, pill testing “reduces harmful drug use and connects young people to harm reduction services”, would reduce the number of drug-related deaths in Victoria, and there’s two decades of evidence from overseas that clearly show pill testing protects young people.
But the relatively low cost of the trial makes it particularly difficult to argue against. At $1.3 million per year, the Greens point out that it is cost effective – “at $50,000 per life-year saved if it saved 26 life-years at a cost of $1.3m/year.”
“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,” said Dr. Read.
Meanwhile in New South Wales, last week leaked documents revealed that the NSW Coroner would recommend pill testing, as well as recommending police strip searches and sniffer dogs be scratched. However, despite the Coroner’s findings, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian doubled down on her position against pill testing.