Only half of pharmacists believe they are adequately prepared to deal with a patient who is abusing OTC codeine, new figures show

Among the data released by this week’s UTS Pharmacy Barometer, it has been revealed that only 52% of pharmacists feel ready to handle such customers – rising to 56% for owner/owner managers.

However 57% of employee pharmacists, who the Barometer describes as “at the frontline of patient engagement and interaction,” feel unprepared or neutral.

In terms of the level of confidence, owners/owner managers again felt more prepared (with a score of 7.58) compared to employed pharmacists (6.68).

“With the rising concern of addiction and misuse of codeine-containing products it is imperative that government funded programs that are currently being offered by the professional organisations are implemented effectively,” the Barometer says.

Commenting on the data, Professor Shalom (Charlie) Benrimoj, Professor of Pharmacy Practice and head of the UTS Graduate School of Health said, “Whether or not codeine is rescheduled the level of preparedness of front-line community pharmacists needs to be improved”.

The data also showed that overall, the profession perceived itself capable of using the MedsASSIST program.

Around half (54%) of pharmacists were comfortable using it to monitor codeine usage in patients, but 38% still felt neutral, and 8% even uncomfortable, using the tool for this purpose.