The Pharmacy Guild is looking to state governments to allow a New Zealand-like model for the supply of codeine containing medicines to patients in community pharmacy.
It is calling for a “structured supply arrangement, prescription ‘except when’ scheduling model” from February next year, when codeine products are up-scheduled to prescription only.
A guild spokesperson said that while medicines containing codeine will be classified as ‘Prescription Only Medicines’ (S4), pharmacists could be authorised to supply under a structured supply arrangement, effectively dispensing without a script.
“Regulatory approval would be enabled through State/Territory Medicines and Poisons legislation, outlining relevant provisions and conditions,” the Guild said.
“Pharmacists in Australia have proven themselves to deliver vaccinations safely and effectively, and to improve consumer access. The vaccination model could be adapted so that codeine medicines remain prescription only, but allow appropriately trained pharmacists to dispense when appropriate.”
The Guild said it is devoting significant resources and effort to ensure that patients continue to have access to much-needed pain medications when the up-scheduling of codeine containing analgesics to prescription-only occurs on 1 February.
“This issue is one of the Guild’s highest priorities,” the Guild said.
It added, this is in the interest of patients, the pharmacist profession and the wider health system that community pharmacies lead the effective management of this transition for the nearly two million Australians who currently use codeine containing over-the-counter analgesics.
A major issue seen by the Guild in community pharmacy is how to maintain convenient access – with appropriate safeguards and clinical protocols – for patients suffering from temporary, acute pain.
“The Guild will also encourage pharmacies to tell patients about the prescription ‘except when’ model that is being pursued and the vital role of the MedsASSIST real time recording clinical support tool,” it added.
The Guild says it will work closely with the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, which represents the pharmacist’s profession, in taking these issues forward.
Meanwhile the PSA has elected a new national president in the person of Dr Shane Jackson.
Dr Jackson is a Tasmanian community pharmacist and pharmacy owner, researcher and academic. He replaces Melbourne pharmacist Joe Demarte in the leadership role.