Fuming Guild hits back at pharmacy-bashing AMA

A fuming Pharmacy Guild has hit back at the AMA over an “offensive and hypothetical” claim that pharmacists can’t control codeine misuse.

The AMA accused pharmacy groups of trying to “coerce” stage governments to “change, delay or dilute” the decision to upschedule codeine.

“We already know that pharmacist control of codeine use does not work,” said AMA president Dr Michael Gannon in a pharmacy-bashing statement.

“Codeine-related deaths continued to rise when pharmacists were given responsibility for ensuring safe non-prescription codeine sales in 2010.”

However, the Guild said Dr Gannon had misrepresented the Guild’s intentions.

The Guild is working with the PSA on a “common sense” approach to codeine. They want appropriately trained pharmacists to be able to supply an agreed quantity of codeine medicines for the temporary relief of acute pain.

Pharmacists would have to follow a strict protocol and record the supply in a real-time monitoring system.

More than 70% of pharamcies use MedsASSIST, with codeine sales for one pharmacy group falling by 31% in one six-month period, says the Guild.

The Guild says the AMA’s statement is “particularly galling” in view of how little the AMA has done to address the broader problem of doctor shopping.

The majority of codeine-related deaths were a result of high-strength prescription or combination of medicines consumed by patients. 

“To assert that pharmacist control of codeine does not work is offensive and hypocritical in view of the stack of coroners’ reports on opioid related deaths due to doctor shopping over many years and across all jurisdictions.”

Guild president George Tambassis said it was time for the AMA to put common sense and patients before “tired old turf wars”.