Stakeholders gear up on real-time codeine monitoring


codeine tablets, glass of water

The deferment of a final decision on the upscheduling of codeine-containing OTCs is very good news, but stakeholders now need to get moving quickly on the proposed real-time monitoring system for the medicines, they say.

“I think this is a win for everybody – for pharmacists, for consumers, for industry,” Deon Schoombie, CEO of the Australian Self-Medication Industry, told the AJP. “In terms of the principles of enhancing and supporting self care with the involvement of health professionals, this is the right way to go.

“It’s a great opportunity to demonstrate the role of pharmacists in Quality Use of Medicines.

“There’s a lot of pharmacists doing excellent work in this, and this is an opportunity to make it more consistent and universal, and raise the standard for everybody, bearing in mind that pharmacy overall is doing a great job.”

A spokesperson for the Pharmacy Guild agreed that it behoves pharmacists to use this time before a final decision on codeine OTCs to provide excellence.

“Community pharmacists are the custodians of the medicine schedules and it is vital that pharmacists adhere to the requirements and responsibilities imposed by the schedules,” he told the AJP.

“The proposed real time recording and monitoring system will be rolled out as soon as possible.

“It will provide an important decision making tool for pharmacists in determining if a patient is using codeine products in a dangerous way, and provide clinical referral pathways to address the problem.”

Dr Schoombie says the time frame is tight, but he feels very positive about the monitoring system.

“They’re talking March meeting next year, and June for a decision, so that doesn’t give us much time to implement and pilot the system,” he says.

“It will be a work in progress. It’ll be a joint effort with the Guild, the Society, with the CHF and Pain Australia.

“The next step will be to engage with the TGA and states and territories to make sure this system of real time monitoring will need requirements and deliver the data they’re looking for. The to-do list is urgent.”

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