Poll: What concerns you most about the codeine upschedule?

We want to know your thoughts about the upcoming schedule change in February 2018

From February 2018 medicines containing codeine will no longer be available OTC, meaning pharmacists will need to provide alternative medicines and methods of managing pain.

Clinical pharmacist Joyce McSwan, pain educator and Persistent Pain Program manager at the Gold Coast Primary Health Network, says the next 11 months are “critical”.

“Upscheduling codeine will bring about its own changes in the way prescriptions are managed from the GP and persons suffering pain, which remain unknown to all of us.”

Karalyn Huxhagen, consultant pharmacist and winner of the 2015 PSA Award for Quality Use of Medicines in Pain Management, told AJP that there will be a negative impact unless patients have someone to turn to who can reinforce the alternatives available.

Possible substitutes for the treatment of pain include paracetamol and NSAIDs, in particular combination paracetamol and ibuprofen medications such as Maxigesic or Nuromol.

Pharmacists are going to have to think about stock in the lead-up, says CEO of AFT Pharmaceuticals, Dr Hartley Atkinson.

“There are alternatives, it’s about starting to discuss those with patients, maybe get them started on a pack and see how they feel,” says Dr Atkinson.

“Also some medicines are being dropped as well so people will need to prepare for that too… The key message to pharmacists is ‘think ahead’,” he says.

We want to know what you’re preparing for over the next 11 months.

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