Phar­macy slams codeine clam­p­down


HEATH­COTE Phar­macy has slammed the Ther­a­peu­tic Goods Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s (TGA) de­ci­sion to make the drug codeine pre­scrip­tion-only.

Lo­cal phar­ma­cist Cait­lyn Clavarino said the de­ci­sion to pre­vent painkillers con­tain­ing codeine, such as Nurofen Plus and Panadeine, from be­ing avail­able over-the-counter will only put more pres­sure on doc­tors’ clin­ics.

She said clin­ics were al­ready over­flow­ing and la­belled it a ‘very multi-lay­ered is­sue.’

‘‘It takes away the abil­ity of peo­ple who need that form of painkiller to ac­cess it eas­ily and cheaply with­out hav­ing to go to a doc­tor,’’ Ms Clavarino said.

She said she doubted mak­ing codeine harder to ob­tain would be the so­lu­tion and con­sid­ered the de­ci­sion made by the TGA too ex­ces­sive.

‘‘It’s not re­ally ad­dress­ing the prob­lem that peo­ple who are de­pen- dent on codeine have,’’ Ms Clavarino said.

‘‘Cut­ting off the sup­ply doesn’t ad­dress the is­sue.’’

The Fac­ulty of Pain Medicine (FPM), Aus­tralia’s top pain medicine body, wel­comed the de­ci­sion to make codeine pre­scrip­tion-only, claim­ing it was a ‘‘vic­tory for sci­en­tific ev­i­dence and com­mu­nity safety’’.

‘‘Codeine is con­verted into mor­phine and peo­ple can eas­ily get ad­dicted to it. This may lead to us­ing high doses of com­bi­na­tion prod­ucts that also con­tain anti-in­flam­ma­tory drugs or parac­eta­mol,’’ the Dean of the FPM Dr Chris Hayes said.

‘‘This can, in turn, cause prob­lems like liver dam­age, re­nal fail­ure and even death.’’

How­ever, Ms Clavarino be­lieved the TGA de­ci­sion would back­fire, say­ing peo­ple who ac­tu­ally rely on it will turn to stronger med­i­ca­tion that is avail­able over-the-counter.

‘‘We will see a higher pro­por­tion of peo­ple us­ing stronger med­i­ca­tion com­pared to if they could ac­cess codeine over-the-counter,’’ she said.

‘‘There’s a lot of dif­fer­ent types of opi­ates used to treat long-term chronic con­di­tions. Codeine use is for short­term pain re­lief.

‘‘Small doses of codeine in prod­ucts is not re­ally more ef­fec­tive than nurofen and parac­eta­mol.’’

The change will go into ef­fect early next year.

The new pav­il­ion and change rooms at Heath­cote's Bar­rack Re­serve should be com­pleted by the mid­dle of the year.

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