Patient pushback?

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Pharmacists seem to be experiencing an influx in complaints and stockpiling behaviour as the codeine upschedule approaches, according to poll results

More than half (51%) of respondents to an AJP poll say they have received “many” complaints about the impending codeine upschedule.

A further 34% say they have received “some” complaints.

And of 205 respondents, just 15% reported not receiving any complaints.

AJP ran the poll over the past week after the Extended Hours Pharmacies Association (EHPA) claimed pharmacists were already seeing patients anxious about the impending change.

EHPA member Peter Feros, director of Cincotta Discount Chemists and Ventura Health, added that pharmacists were already receiving complaints from consumers who resent “being treated like drug addicts”.

We ran a second poll asking readers whether they had noticed an increase in customers attempting to stockpile codeine ahead of the schedule change.

Of over 100 respondents, 76% said they had become aware of more patients who seem to be trying to stockpile codeine.

The remaining 24% said they had had not noticed any unusual stockpiling behaviour.

A staff member from a pharmacy in rural Victoria says some regular customers seem to have been attempting to stockpile codeine ahead of the schedule change.

“We had a regular customer come in who regularly buys codeine, but now was asking for it for her husband who had recently injured himself,” explains the staff member.

“She provided his ID details but we were very sceptical that the medicines were for him… we are concerned that we might see more of this.”

An anonymous source told AJP they had attended a Canberra pharmacy and noticed a man asking for and receiving two packs of Nurofen Plus from a pharmacy assistant.

“While she’s ringing up the sale he asks her if ‘the other pharmacy’ in a different suburb is out of them yet. She says no and he says he’ll head over there!

“He was after the branded stuff too, I could see they still had some generics in the dispensary.”

The Pharmacy Guild and the PSA have collaborated to develop a range of materials and training resources to help pharmacists and pharmacy assistants prepare in the transition to the upscheduling of codeine on 1 February 2018.

See the PSA’s Codeine Resource Hub here.

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