Pharmacy guild urges tighter codeine sale control

THE pharmacy industry has urged the federal government to create a real-time monitoring program for codeine sales to avoid removing the drugs from over the counter sales.

A decision to require all codeine drugs to need a prescription was to be made this year, but on Thursday it was delayed until 2017 at the earliest.

The delay was the result of the Therapeutic Goods Administration receiving more than 100 submissions on the change that was proposed to prevent 'doctor shopping' and potential codeine abuse.

The Australian Medical Association welcomed the review but did not put in a submission. The powerful Pharmacy Guild has.

Numerous public health groups, addiction medicine specialists and individual GPs have also urged the TGA to ensure consumers need a prescription to buy codeine products.

The guild rejected arguments for removing codeine drugs from over the counter sales, writing "we do not agree (the changes) will address the potential issues of morbidity, toxicity, dependence".

Instead, the lobby representing pharmacists around the nation said as "adverse events" from codeine abuse were "small relative to the large number of users" the "risk of harm" among all drug users was low.

The guild instead urged the TGA to put in place a national real-time monitoring system for codeine sales, similar to that already in place for pseudoephedrine.

It said simply making codeine a prescription-only drug would not address potential abuse, and could lead addicts to use other opiates or alcohol.

The monitoring proposal was also backed by Reckitt Benckiser, the multinational drug company behind the codeine-containing Nurofen Plus. 

The company also urged against the proposed changes.


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