Are you prepared?

The Pharmacy Guild and PSA are set to develop CPD-accredited training for pharmacists leading up to codeine upschedule – predicted to impact one million patients in 2018

Health Minister Greg Hunt has this week signed off on newly announced funding for the Pharmacy Guild and the PSA to develop and deliver education and training for pharmacists and pharmacy assistants in the lead up to 1 February 2018 and beyond.

This training will include CPD-accredited online modules and videos covering protocols and procedures, with further funds allocated towards communication materials and resources for consumers and other healthcare professionals.

PSA and the Guild have announced they will be working together to develop a comprehensive training package “to enable a smooth transition to the upscheduling of codeine”,

“This is a very positive and welcome contribution by the government,” says PSA National President Dr Shane Jackson.

“The package will enable community pharmacists and other pharmacy staff across Australia to support patients in this significant transition in the coming months.”

Pharmacy Guild National President George Tambassis says the funding boost comes at a crucial time for pharmacy.

“It is vitally important that community pharmacies have the resources to communicate directly with patients, ensuring that they are following the most appropriate clinical pathways to meet their pain management needs and minimising the number of unnecessary GP, emergency department and after-hours home doctor visits,” says Mr Tambassis.

The organisations say they will work closely with the Department Health and the Nationally Coordinated Codeine Implementation Working Group on the development of clinical protocols, standards and guidelines, as well as associated education and support.

Pharmacists will have a vital role to play even after codeine goes prescription only, say experts.

“Even when codeine is a prescription drug, it’s still going to be a problem. One in four (24%) of those using opioids in the community meet the criteria for addiction,” says lead alcohol and drug researcher Dr Suzanne Nielsen.

“Unfortunately the pattern is that opioid overdose deaths continue to rise. There are two prescription deaths to every one heroin death.

“It’s important when preparing for rescheduling, don’t assume that GPs know what to do, or that patients know where to get help. They might not be particularly confident about what to do.”

Meanwhile, the Guild and PSA confirm they are “committed to ensuring that community pharmacies and the pharmacist profession have rigorous, clinically safe and patient-focused solutions in place to enable this change, which will have an impact on an estimated one million patients in 2018.”

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  1. Ron Batagol

    OTC Codeine was always a drug. that objectively didn’t work
    well at OTC strength doses and had, in any case, unpredictable efficacy in
    individual patients, ranging from useless to potentially toxic, depending on their
    genetic make up.
    Since OTC Codeine will soon be dead and buried, and with funding to set up and run the accredited training program, there should be no further need for hand-wringing and clinging to the entrails of OTC Codeine
    by pharmacy organisations, who can now focus on helping pharmacists assist their patients
    change to better, safer and more reliable OTC pain relief choices by:

    1. Assisting and advising their patients to manage the transition to more effective, and
    therapeutically predictable OTC non-Codeine options, having regard to the
    potential benefits and risk profiles for those patients and:

    2. Being involved in providing assistance to patients, by utilising existing or evolving
    programs that document and record issues concerning patients carrying out
    “doctor or pharmacy” shopping, thereby assisting those patients with
    habituation or addiction problems with pain medications, irrespective of
    whether those medications are OTC or on script only.

    • jason northwood

      All good points Ron but what are the “existing or evolving programs that document and record issues ” ?

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