Libs corner Hunt on codeine

Liberal MPs have flagged concerns with Health Minister Greg Hunt over the codeine upschedule in a party room meeting

The Guardian reports that Tim Wilson, Russell Broadbent, Jason Falinski and Craig Kelly told Mr Hunt during Tuesday’s party room meeting that the upschedule was “unpopular with constituents and would not work”.

They said the upschedule of low-dose codeine would result in doctor shopping, and that the Pharmacy Guild’s MedsASSIST program would be more effective.

“Party-room sources have told Guardian Australia that Hunt told the dissenters they would not face the political pressure they feared over the measure because the Pharmacy Guild was not intending to campaign against the change,” writes political editor Katharine Murphy.

She writes that Liberal MPS have been given a “clear impression” that the Guild opposed the upschedule.

“Notwithstanding the activity of the Guild, MPs fear a backlash from their constituents, with many people regular users of strong over-the-counter medicines to treat chronic pain and transient problems such as migraine headaches.”

Meanwhile at, journalist Peter Jean reports that some patients could still obtain medicines such as “Neurofen Plus” (sic) under the Guild’s proposed prescription – except when model.

He writes that Mr Hunt told Liberal members during Tuesday’s meeting that it would be up to the states to decide whether changes were implemented.

South Australian Health Minister Peter Malinauskas reportedly said that he would discuss the upschedule with stakeholders, “to ensure that the outcome for codeine drug scheduling best meets both the needs of patients and the requirements of safe practice”.

Commenters on the Guardian article expressed fears about untreated pain, access to GPs, and what alternatives pain sufferers would use following the 1 February 2018 upschedule.

Deborah Taylor wrote that, “There is the increase use of other substances to dull pain instead. Alcohol cannabis ice I dont know whatever is available and accessable and takes away pain…whatever. Thats a personal and society cost.”

“Well I’m stocking up now,” wrote Spencer5796. “When my back goes out the pain is not fun. For days. There’s no effing way I am going to make it to a doctor’s surgery.”

DeepNorthDave wrote that, “We know from history, that prohibition does not work. Anyone with a habit will simply find a way around the restrictions or an alternative substance.”

And EricaNernie wrote that, “Given that doctors have pretty much created OxyContin addiction, how could we expect them to manage Codeine addiction?”

But Kate Napthali wrote that, “I’m a gastroenterologist and see the pointy end of compound analgesia misuse. The [codeine] in [Nurofen] plus is at a dose unlikely of offer analgesic benefit. I’m not sure prescriptions will work, GPs have plenty more to be doing but I think it should be better regulated.”

And olsonlg wrote that, “Codeine + aspirin/paracetamol/ibuprofen does not relieve any kind of short-term pain better than the aspirin/paracetamol/ibuprofen alone. There is no good medical reason to use codeine for short-term pain. So, using codeine for things like sprained ankles is a waste, but not a serious problem. The problem is regular use for chronic pain.”

In the article, a Guild spokesperson reiterated that the Guild is not seeking to reverse the upschedule decision, but to have stakeholders consider the “prescription – except when” model and encourage doctors to think about how they plan to manage doctor shopping.

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1 Comment

  1. GetOutOfPharmacy

    The AMA accused the Guild of being “irresponsible and unprincipled, sneakily using State legislation to allow pharmacies to avoid compliance with the TGA decision and put patients’ health at risk.”
    The AMA added “We warned that some groups would put self-interest ahead of patients’ best interests by using highly-paid lobbyists to influence or coerce State Governments to change, delay, or dilute the impact of the TGA decision”
    The Guild simply say they are “advocating for their members”

    We all know who is right and who is amoral.

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