Upschedule ‘missed opportunity’ without real-time recording

tablets and glass of water

Pharmacists are disappointed that a real-time recording system won’t be introduced with codeine upschedule, says PSA

The TGA announced products containing codeine will not be able to be sold over the counter in pharmacies, making these products available by prescription-only from February 1, 2018.

PSA National President Joe Demarte says the TGA scheduling decision is a missed opportunity to ensure Quality Use of Medicines in the context of minimising unintended harm for consumers seeking treatment for pain and managing addiction issues.

“While we are concerned with the harm and deaths arising from inappropriate use of codeine-containing medicines, PSA does not believe the decision to make OTC codeine medicines prescription-only on its own provides for a holistic consumer-focussed solution,” Demarte says. 

“The majority of documented opioid-related harm comes from prescribed medicines so simply requiring a prescription for OTC codeine products will not solve these complex issues for consumers.”

As a result of today’s decision, Demarte says PSA reiterated its strong support for the urgent implementation of a national real-time recording and reporting system to allow for real-time monitoring of prescribing and dispensing of specific high-risk medicines.

“We believe this is an urgent priority issue that requires collaboration and coordination across all jurisdictions – something that PSA has been strongly advocating for in recent years.

“The decision also appears to ignore coronial reports that have repeatedly called for real-time monitoring of the prescribing and dispensing of drugs of dependence as a key part of the response to this issue.”

Following the decision, Demarte highlighted that pharmacists will be at the forefront of dealing with consumers in the lead-up to this change.

“As the most accessible health professionals in Australia, pharmacists will be working with consumers to identify other pain management options and discussing transition issues with local prescribers,” Demarte says.

PSA urged the Federal Government to work with it to deliver an effective policy implementation plan for pharmacists and consumers. This plan needs to include strategies to facilitate pharmacists’ discussion of therapy options with consumers, Demarte says.

“We hope the TGA can work closely with PSA and our members on how pharmacists can be supported to provide information and guidance to consumers affected by this decision,” Demarte says.

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