Next year’s codeine behaviour forecast

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New figures show many will still see pharmacy as their first port of call for pain relief after codeine is upscheduled

New research from Sanofi Consumer Healthcare investigated the likely impact of the upcoming regulatory changes, following the TGA’s decision to upschedule low-dose codeine to prescription only.

A significant number— 45%—will still head straight to their pharmacy to seek pain relief in the first instance following 1 February 2018, the research found.

It also revealed that 43% of those who currently purchase OTC codeine-containing analgesics will switch to a paracetamol and ibuprofen combination after the changes come into effect.

Another 28% of codeine customers instead plan to approach their GP for a product containing a higher dose of codeine.

However, the research also shows GPs would be more likely to prescribe the same codeine strength that previously worked for the patient when they were purchasing it over the counter.

The majority of GPs surveyed said they would prefer to prescribe smaller pack sizes of low-dose codeine (20-24 tablets) over a larger one (36-40 tablets).

Half said they would not write repeat codeine scripts.

Patients demonstrated a loyalty to brand name rather than doses or active ingredients, the research found.

“People who are in pain will seek help from an expert and, while some will visit their GP, a large number of people will still visit their local pharmacy first,” says Sanofi Consumer Healthcare general manager Brett Charlton.

“It’s critical that pharmacy be equipped to provide support, advice and relief to those people.”

The research was released to coincide with the introduction of Sanofi’s paracetamol/ibuprofen combination, Mersynofen.

Sanofi also confirmed that it will not discontinue its current codeine-containing range of Mersyndol, Prodeine and ProdeineXtra.

From 1 February 2018, these products will move to prescription only.

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