Codeine claims ‘emotive’
THE current debate regarding the proposed rescheduling of over the counter (OTC) codeine-containing products to prescription only has driven some individuals and organisations to make claims “which are emotive and erroneous” according to the president of the NSW Branch of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) Professor Peter Carroll.
Carroll is also Sydney University of Notre Dame School of Medicine Professor and head of pharmacology and University of Sydney Honorary Professor in the discipline of Pharmacology.
In a scholarly, well-referenced open letter, Carroll writes he has “tried to address some of these claims from a scientific and clinical perspective.”
He presents seven arguments which can be summarised as͗ 1. It is incorrect to claim that the amount of codeine in OTC codeine-containing analgesics is not efficacious as it is not supported by the evidence 2. To claim that Australia is out of step with other countries regarding the scheduling of codeine is inaccurate, and does not tell the full story 3. Any claim that codeine is a major cause of drug death in Australia is not supported by the evidence, and is untrue 4. The prescription only move for codeine containing products has the potential to increase its use 5. A switch to an ibuprofen and paracetamol combination could lead to serious adverse health outcomes for up to one million people in Australia 6. Claims suggesting that codeine can cause life-threatening toxicity in up to 4-10% of the population is a gross over-exaggeration, and is not supported by the evidence 7. There is no evidence to support the claim that many consumers are using OTC codeine-containing products to treat chronic pain. “If codeine is being used to treat chronic pain, it is far more likely to be as a result of the 3.7 million prescriptions written over 12 months for products containing 30mg codeine and 500mg paracetamol,” he said. To view Professor Carroll’s letter >/ < , Z .