How to handle codeine scripts


a line of pill bottles

The Pharmacy Board has advised on handling scripts for large quantities of codeine-containing preparations

In its latest communique, the Pharmacy Board has received a request for advice about how pharmacists should deal with prescriptions for large quantities of combination analgesics containing codeine.

Subsequently the Board has reminded pharmacists and other stakeholders to give consideration to several factors:

  • any legal requirements outlined in legislation relevant to pharmacy practice;
  • the training materials and other resources developed by the pharmacy professional associations and other organisations such as the Therapeutic Goods Administration (Codeine information hub);
  • the profession’s practice standards and guidelines; and
  • the Board’s Code of conduct for pharmacists (the Code) and guidelines for pharmacists published by the Board such as Guideline 2 Dispensing precaution – safety of prescriptions in the Guidelines for dispensing of medicines.

The Board points out that Guideline 2 states: “At all times the dispensing of a prescription or

 any other action taken by the pharmacist, must be consistent with the safety of the patient”.

This guideline also outlines that professional judgement must be exercised by the pharmacist when deciding appropriate action to take, and to consult the patient and the prescriber about any alternative options available to the patient regarding their medication needs.

“The Code published by the Board, under the section titled ‘Working with other practitioners’ also highlights the importance of clear communication with other health practitioners,” the Board points out.

According to Medical Republic, a number of pharmacies have reportedly received prescriptions for “unusually large” doses of codeine and numerous repeats.

One Queensland pharmacy reportedly received a script for 20 boxes of Mersyndol Forte with five repeats.

Some GPs have been reported to AHPRA over the scripts.

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