Consumers need codeine access

tablets and glass of water

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia has welcomed comments made by the Federal Minister for Health, Sussan Ley, acknowledging and supporting the skills of pharmacists to effectively and safely manage the supply of medicines containing codeine.

The Minister said: “Pharmacists are well qualified to advise, to assess, and to determine what somebody’s requests for medicines are, and how appropriate those requests may be.”

Chief Executive Officer of the PSA, Dr Lance Emerson, says consumers need to be able to access these medicines.

Suggestions they be moved to prescription-only would not only negatively affect those who had genuine need for them, but would not address the real issues around misuse, he says.

“Pharmacists are the recognised medicines experts and as the Minister said, have the qualifications and knowledge to determine the appropriateness of supply of these medicines,” Dr Emerson says.

“Importantly, they also have the trust of consumers, as is shown in the latest Roy Morgan Image of Professions Survey 2015 which measures how professions are rated for honesty and ethical standards.

“Pharmacists were the second highest rated profession, just behind nurses, and this reflects the very high regard they are held in by the community.”

Dr Emerson says pharmacists are aware of and share concerns over the rising levels of harm associated with the inappropriate use of over-the-counter analgesics containing codeine.

“PSA has suggested a number of strategies in our recent position statement, Minimising harm from the inappropriate use of over the counter analgesics, and have developed resources for use by pharmacists and consumers to strengthen the appropriate use of these medicines,” he said.

“We strongly promote quality use of medicines and responsible self-care, and are committed to supporting pharmacists to provide solutions to consumers seeking to manage pain and addiction issues.

“The Minister’s confidence in the profession is well founded and we thank her for expressing it so articulately.”

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