Have you been receiving complaints from patients or noticed stockpiling behaviour as the codeine upschedule date approaches?

This week, the Extended Hours Pharmacies Association (EHPA) urged its members to invite their local MP to understand consumer distress and to see the effectiveness of the MedsASSIST real-time monitoring program.

“Extended hours pharmacists are at the coalface of this decision and are already seeing patients anxious about the pending change,” said John Maronese, spokesperson for the EHPA.

“We are bracing ourselves. We are going to have to take the brunt of people in pain, such as with a migraine, and we will have to tell them that we can no longer supply the products and that they will have to visit a doctor to get a prescription”. 

According to EHPA member Peter Feros, director of Cincotta Discount Chemists and Ventura Health, pharmacists are already receiving complaints from consumers who resent “being treated like drug addicts” and object to the cost and time of seeing a doctor when many pharmacists already have real time monitoring of codeine sales in place.

Meanwhile a staff member from a pharmacy in rural Victoria says some regular customers 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, to be honest. But what can you do? We’re in a rural town where we know most of customers and they know us, so you cannot accuse someone of lying and we really want to do our best to help everyone.

“But we are concerned that we might see more of this.”

We want to know what your experiences have been.