MedsASSIST on track to monitor codeine sales: Quilty

codeine tablets, glass of water

The real-time monitoring system for over-the-counter codeine-containing products, MedsASSIST – informing medicine decisions, is progressing well, David Quilty writes in this week’s edition of Forefront.

User testing of the prototype has already taken place in December, involving around 30 pharmacies in the Newcastle, NSW area, he says.

“Modifications to the prototype have been incorporated and the system is ready for a large scale pilot involving up to 150 pharmacies in the Newcastle and North Queensland regions,” writes the Guild’s executive director.

“This pilot will commence in early February 2016 and will collect very important data to help make the case that it is not necessary for the Government to re-schedule codeine containing medicines to Schedule 4 (Prescription Only).”

Quilty thanked those pharmacies involved in the pilot and says they have provided valuable input and advice on improving the system’s usability and efficiency.

“The data collected in the pilot of MedsASSIST will form part of the Guild submission to the Advisory Committee on Medicine Scheduling which is meeting in mid-March to re-consider its interim decision to delete the Schedule 2 and Schedule 3 entries for codeine,” he says.

“The Guild’s submission to the ACMS will once again argue that making these medicines Schedule 4 will simply create a barrier to the majority of consumers who use these products safely and effectively.”

The Guild has consistently stated that upscheduling will increase MBS and PBS Government expenditure but will not actually address issues of misuse and abuse.

“The Guild has argued that the implementation of a Real Time Monitoring system in community pharmacy would be more effective and economical to assist in identifying at-risk consumers, facilitate access to education materials and support appropriate referral when required,” Quilty says.

“This is why the Guild, in partnership with the Australian Self Medication Industry, has taken the initiative and developed a real-time monitoring system specifically designed to record pharmacy provision of over-the-counter products containing codeine.

“Unlike the current Project STOP system, which is primarily a law enforcement tool to prevent diversion of pseudoephedrine, the new system is a clinical decision support system, helping pharmacists to identify patients who are at risk of codeine dependence.

“The system will also have the capacity for pharmacists to record clinical information and provide guidance regarding suitable referral pathways to support patients to better manage their pain and enhance health outcomes.

“The national rollout of the system is scheduled to commence in March with a launch of MedsASSIST planned for the APP Conference on the Gold Coast.”

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