MedsASSIST tops 4 million transactions

De-listing of paracetamol from PBS is pure speculation

More than four million transactions have now been recorded in MedsASSIST, the Pharmacy Guild says.

As of yesterday (21 November) the codeine real-time recording and monitoring system had clocked up over four million transactions, and of these two per cent were for a deny/non-supply.

Guild data also shows that 86% of consumers who had made five or more purchases were recommended to take follow-up action, such as a referral to a doctor or pain specialist, pain management care plan, drug or alcohol service, to assist them to seek further help in managing pain and addiction.

“There is strong evidence that MedsASSIST is having an effect as intended and reducing inappropriate OTC codeine use for people who might be at risk of codeine dependency, while maintaining access for legitimate use,” the Pharmacy Guild says.

The Guild is working with Painaustralia and a number of Primary Health Networks to develop further resources to assist pharmacists and their patients to pursue alternative treatment options where chronic pain and/or dependence are suspected/apparent.

The TGA’s decision on whether or not to upschedule codeine-containing preparations which are currently OTC to doctor prescription only has been tipped to take place in the next few weeks, with Health Minister Sussan Ley telling the recent ASMI conference that the final decision would likely come before the end of the year.

However, the Guild’s commissioned report, “Fiscal impacts of codeine changes by Cadence Economics November 2015,” estimates an additional 8.7 million GP visits a year would be generated as a result of moving codeine medicines to prescription only.  

The MBS outlay of the additional GP visits is estimated to be $316.44 million each year, the Guild says.

These figures do not take into account losses in time and productivity for patients.

Costs to the PBS are also not included as these medicines would not be subsidised, although there is the potential that the higher strength, PBS-subsidised alternatives might be prescribed more often, the Guild says. Other industry sources have also indicated that they would expect this outcome.

The Guild highlighted that it supports a range of measures in addition to the real-time monitoring system:

  • mandatory warning labels advising consumers of the potential for dependence from prolonged use;
  • reduction in pack sizes to a maximum of three days’ supply; and
  • education and support for consumers and health professionals.

The Guild has written to all States and Territories Health Ministers to request that in order to maximise its effectiveness in reducing harm and to create consistency across the pharmacies, the recording of the supply of codeine medicines must be mandated by amending the respective medicines and poisons legislation.

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