States urge Hunt on codeine
A JOINT letter from most of Australia’s state and territory health ministers to Federal counterpart Greg Hunt has urged him to “manage the concerns” of stakeholders affected by the upcoming rescheduling of codeine to prescription-only.
All states except SA were signatories, but rather than seeking to overturn the TGA’s decision, it instead requests that Hunt consider alternative approaches reflecting the size and diversity of Australia.
“There is concern that some people managing chronic conditions with codeine medications will deteriorate as they abandon medication due to the out-of-pocket costs associated with accessing GPs for their prescription,” the letter states.
“All jurisdictions are committed to reducing the impact of inappropriate medication use, addiction and overdoses of all kinds, and are taking a range of actions in support of this policy goal... however some stakeholders have raised a number of concerns about the unintended consequences of the change in scheduling of codeine products.”
The letter urges Hunt to address the matter at a federal level “to prevent variation in prescribing and dispensing practices”.
The Guild’s campaign on codeine garnered support last week from NSW deputy premier John Barilaro (W Fri), who backed the proposal to allow patients to access the drug without prescription in certain circumstances, including the use of a real-time monitoring system.
The joint letter relays concerns including that the impact of the up-scheduling “will be felt particularly acutely in rural and regional areas where access to GPs is already low”.
The Guild commended the state and territory health ministers for their letter, saying they were “justifiably concerned that the up-scheduling will clog up doctors’ practices and emergency patients, leaving patients with temporary acute pain such as headache, toothache and menstrual pain without timely access to treatment.”
d Et,/> the Guild has also blasted the Australian Medical Association which last week issued a statement accusing the Guild of wanting to undermine the TGA rescheduling decision on codeine.
“It is time for the AMA to get real on codeine... accept that doctor shopping is rife, and acknowledge that patients using codeine medicines safely and appropriately should be able to continue to do so with safeguards and real time recording in place,” the Guild said.