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What you need to know about codeine changes

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What you need to know about codeine changes

Pharmacies are at risk of being left with worthless stock when codeine products become prescription-only in just over nine months.

The TGA will require all codeine products dispensed after the February change to be in new packaging reflecting their schedule. “Pharmacists will no longer be able to supply S3 products with the current labeling,” says a spokesperson.

No contingency plans have been announced for the change-over, but one solution could be for state and territory governments to allow the use of stickers.

Here are eight things pharmacists should know about the change:

  1. The loss to pharmacy is difficult to estimate, according to the Pharmacy Guild. Pharmacies will lose OTC income, but they will still dispense prescribed codeine products and will still be able to sell OTC alternatives.
  2. Panafen Plus, Panadeine, Panadeine Rapid Soluble and Panadeine Extra are being discontinued. Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK) will work with pharmacists on an exit strategy.
  3. Nurofen Plus will continue following feedback from consumers and pharmacists. 
  4. Mersyndol tablets and caplets, Prodeine and ProdeineXtra ranges will be available in three-day packs only. The five-day packs will be discontinued, along with Mersyndol Day Strength.
  5. Replacement products appear to be making their way onto the market. Sanofi launched Mersynofen, an ibuprofen and paracetamol combination, in March.
  6. Demazin will disappear after 1 February as Bayer removes cold and flu remedies containing codeine from the market. The company has developed new TGA-approved formulations.
  7. Codral: Johnson and Johnson are working to ensure a stable supply of its cold and flu remedies from February.
  8. The retail value of S3 codeine and codeine combination products was nearly $116 million for the 12 months to April 2017, according to Nielsen figures. Nearly 11 million products were sold.

The Guild is lobbying for pharmacists to be able to supply codeine products without a prescription when clinically warranted.

One option is New Zealand’s prescription except when model.  This allows pharmacists to supply codeine products for acute pain as long as they record sales in a real-time monitoring system.

The TGA spokesperson said it could not speculate on proposals it had not seen.


 

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