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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    It astounds me to think that anyone would not expect patient concerns and “stockpiling”. If I were a responsible user I am sure I would be getting “a few extra”.

    My crystal ball is a tad foggy, but I will not be surprised if :

    * There will have been enough stockpiling for the dramas not to start on 1/2/18.

    * The majority of the Medical Profession will not be able to undertake the procedure(s) we have been criticized for not doing. Time apart from any other factor will not allow.

    * Aggression from patients, including those with genuine urgent needs for analgesia and who, surprisingly, can not see a GP at the drop of a hat.

    * Many many prescriptions for “Forte” products ? ” I will give you something effective”. When will the 240 plus 2 repeat scripts start ? How will we cope with Rxs for discontinued formerly S 3 items ? And if low dose Codeine has problems…….

    * Increased prescribing of S8 analgesics ?

    * Heroin sales will increase. If I can’t get to a doctor for three days………

    * ORT for those who can not cope with withdrawal and don’t want to use Heroin etc..

    * More hold ups and break ins.

    * Great confusion in base price and Dispensing Fees on S4 low dose compound analgesics; if any continue to be manufactured.

    I do hope most of what the crystal ball is telling me do not eventuate, but I am not confident.

    I am long enough in the tooth to remember when Panadeine and Codral Red (red; for strong pain) were intorduced. Why ? Why should I pay more for that ? Why is it better ?

    Bill Arnold Honorary Life Member PSA, Honorary Life Member PGA

    • Samantha Kourtis

      Thanks Bill… just last night in my pharmacy. Rx #1= 1/2 a mersyndol forte plus 1 Panadol osteo for patient with migraines to replace her OTC mersyndol. Dr said to take 2 if not working. Rx#2 = 2 panadeine forte to replace otc panadeine 15mg for period pain. Dr explained she was probably needing to take so many because the otc dose isn’t therapeutic. Both cx not interested in discussing further with me as Dr knows best.


      My experience is already telling me your predictions are likely to be spot on.

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