Codeine dos and don’ts

The TGA has released new guidelines to help pharmacy assistants during the codeine upschedule transition

It has highlighted the fact that because of legal restrictions around advertising Pharmacist Only Medicines or Prescription Only medicines to the general public, there are certain types of communication on the subject that pharmacy assistants should avoid.

“There can be a fine line between the presentation of educational material and advertising, especially if the content and presentation of information intended for educational material is not impartial,” says the TGA.

Pharmacy assistants can discuss:

  • Generic or trade names of individual products (or a list of products) that will no longer be available over the counter from 1 February 2018.
  • Generic or trade names of particular analgesic or cough and cold products that will continue to be available over-the-counter after 1 February 2018.
  • Non-medicinal options like lifestyle changes or devices can continue to be discussed as options for pain management.
  • Non-medicinal options for cough and cold management can continue to be discussed.
  • When mentioning products, it is best to mention several products available from a range of companies so that you are not advertising a particular product.
  • Ensure that what you say is factual and balanced.
  • If the customer is suffering from more severe or chronic pain, or has severe cold or influenza symptoms, encourage them to discuss their condition with the pharmacist.

But don’t:

  • Do not encourage consumers to “stock up” ahead of February 2018 by purchasing multiple packs of codeine-containing medicines.
  • Material should not be delivered in the pharmacy and/or branded by a person who sponsor products mentioned in or covered by the material.
  • Superlatives, such as “this is great” should not be used to describe product performance.

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