The Pharmacy Guild has reassured members it is doing its utmost in the lead-up to the upscheduling of codeine products
With the May budget looming, the AJP understands that the Guild is in “high-level” discussions with the government about implementing a different approach to deal with codeine access.
In a recent communication, Guild national president George Tambassis suggests a new approach that will allow certain prescription-only medicines to be supplied through community pharmacy without the need for a prescription.
He explains that such scheduling regimes exist overseas, for example ‘prescription except when’ medicines in New Zealand, where protocols are put in place to govern the direct supply of certain medicines via pharmacies.
There are more cost effective and reliable methods of identifying and supporting consumers who are at risk of codeine dependence, without restricting access to the majority of Australians who use codeine products responsibly, the Guild argues.
The Guild states that it aims to work with governments nationwide to maintain pharmacy access to such medicines with appropriate safeguards and protocols in place.
It has also welcomed the Minister for Health’s expression of support for the implementation of a nationwide real-time monitoring system for drugs of dependence.
Meanwhile it encourages pharmacies to continue using MedsASSIST.
The AJP understands that a range of budget measures impacting community pharmacies may be unveiled in the upcoming announcement, although discussions are still currently underway.
“The Government is having constructive discussions with a number of sectors including the Pharmacy Guild, Australian Medical Association, Royal Australian College of GPs and Medicines Australia aimed at improving access to doctors, reducing the cost of medicines and improving health outcomes,” a spokesperson for the Minister has told the AJP.
“These discussions are on-going and we won’t be commenting on budget matters.”