The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has welcomed today’s decision to defer the proposed re-scheduling of medicines containing codeine until 2017, subject to further consideration.
The delegate of the Secretary of the Department of Health has deferred making a final decision at this time due to the large number of submissions received during the most recent consultation period.
“We are pleased the delegate has taken into account the many legitimate concerns about the re-scheduling proposal, including that it would disadvantage the millions of Australians who use these medicines safely and responsibly,” says The National President of the Pharmacy Guild, George Tambassis.
“The Guild maintains there is a better way to address the incidence of abuse and dependence, including through real time recording and monitoring of purchases, reduced pack sizes, and patient education.”
The Guild says it will move quickly to implement a real time recording system for codeine sales, as recommended in its submission to the Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling.
This system will help identify consumers potentially at risk, and provide clinical referral pathways, says the Guild.
The Guild also supports mandatory front-of-pack warnings about the potential for addiction, and increased consumer education about the risks.
The deferral of the decision will allow the delegate the option to seek further advice, including from the ACMS at its March 2016 meeting, prior to making a final decision, which will not be before 23 June 2016.
Should the final decision require an implementation date, it will not be before 2017.
The interim decision of ACMS issued last month had proposed the upscheduling of all products containing codeine to prescription only (S4) from 1 June 2016.
The delegate noted today that since the interim decision was published, there had been 127 public submissions, of which 113 did not support the upscheduling proposal.