Guild slams codeine deaths claims

white pills and tablets: GMiA

The Guild has hit back at claims that pushback against the interim decision to reschedule codeine-containing OTCs to prescription only do not adequately take into account safety issues.

Pain specialist Dr Michael Vagg yesterday claimed that a “scare campaign” against upscheduling codeine-containing preparations “really doesn’t take account of the facts and drug safety”.

“Dr Michael Vagg should be more careful about calling his opponents on codeine re-scheduling ‘just plain wrong’ if he is going to knowingly misquote his main source,” says a Guild spokesperson.

“Dr Vagg says: ‘A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia in September this year showed there was actually a doubling in codeine related deaths between 2000-2013…’

“In fact, a more careful reading of the study reveals the comparative death figures only extended to 2009,” the spokesperson says.

“Hence this direct quote: ‘We present trends in codeine-related deaths by intent and as rates per million population for the period 2000-2009 only’.”​

This is an important error on Dr Vagg’s part because there were changes to codeine schedules and pack sizes in 2010, the Guild spokesperson says.

“Dr Vagg’s PR agent who issued his statement has been advised of the error, but he has refused to acknowledge it.”

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