States urge Hunt on codeine

Pharmacy Daily - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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