Could codeine upschedule be pharmacy’s doing?

Could demotivated pharmacists have ultimately caused the codeine upschedule? asks David Paulmert

From the first of February 2018, all over-the-counter codeine-containing products will be removed from their current schedule, and placed into schedule 4: prescription only medications.

After intently listening to discussions about the schedule of codeine, and hearing so many pharmacists voice their opinions that, “the up-schedule will never happen”, it is disheartening to learn that this is the truth.

NAPSA believes codeine should not have been rescheduled and that MedsASSIST was doing more to solve the problem, and would do more to solve the problem of codeine addiction, than a reschedule.

It is important to reflect on why an issue like abuse of codeine may have arisen. Many are ready to blame the misinformed consumer, many are equally eager to blame the system.

However, as we cannot know for sure, the only relevant information we can add is that there is a group that certainly showed fault in this field: demotivated professionals.

The pharmacy industry is crowded with people who have lost their initial motivation since leaving university, and have settled into a routine that is rarely exciting nor challenging.

No longer motivated to succeed or to excel like they once were, a demotivated pharmacist might reject a non-compulsory program like MedsASSIST, as so many did, and not properly counsel a patient requesting a codeine product.

So what problem does that leave students?

On one hand, it is disheartening to see that demotivated health professionals are out there, and that they are influencing bodies like the Therapeutic Goods Administration to discredit the capabilities of pharmacists in ways like rescheduling S3 products.

On the other hand, if students can learn that remaining motivated and involved in their profession will do more to push the profession forward than complacency, they can be conscious about maintaining their standards further into their career.

We have witnessed a loss in this case; pharmacists argued for something well within their level of expertise and were denied.

NAPSA implores the current cohort of pharmacists to maintain their professional standards well into the future, right up until the end of their careers. A united and motivated profession will do wonders for issues like medicine rescheduling, remuneration, and CPA agreements.

It is our response to defeats, not successes, that shows the true character of our profession.

David Paulmert is the director of Media and Publications at NAPSA, the National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association.

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