Codeine changes

Grenfell Pharmacy pharmacist David Thiu says proposed changes to the availability of over the counter pain relievers which are set for introduction on February 1 do not have to cause unnecessary suffering.

Off the shelf: Jenifer Gavin, pharmacist David Thiu and Caitlin McWay with products containing codeine at the Grenfell Pharmacy.

Off the shelf: Jenifer Gavin, pharmacist David Thiu and Caitlin McWay with products containing codeine at the Grenfell Pharmacy.

Mr Thiu is asking Grenfell residents to call on member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke and NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard to consider allowing pharmacists to provide customers with a limited three day supply of codeine products.

“Low dose over the counter (OTC) codeine-containing products such as Nurofen Plus, Panadeine and Mersyndol will only be available with a prescription from a doctor from February 1, the main reason being a small number of people are thought to be misusing the products,” Mr Thiu said.

“As a community pharmacist I believe the vast majority of people in our community use these products safely to treat acute, short term pain such as migraine, toothache and period pain.

“If the proposed change goes ahead it will force some in our community to suffer unnecessary pain because if they wish to use the products they will have to wait to get a doctor’s appointment.”

Mr Thiu says the change would mean he would no longer, as a pharmacist, be able to supply the products to anyone who had not made an appointment with a doctor and obtained a doctor’s prescription.

He also belives that alternative OTC analgesics containing ibuprofen, such as Maxigesic and Nuromol, will not be a safe option for many because of their current medical conditions, or the other medications they are taking.

“If the rescheduling goes ahead it will leave many in our community without an effective OTC treatment for their toothache, period pain or migraine or other short term pain conditions,” Mr Thiu said.

The Grenfell Pharmacy, Mr Thiu said, has introduced a RealTime monitoring system which allows the staff to track all sales of OTC analgesics containing codeine.

“This system has also been introduced into the majority of pharmacies in NSW and allows pharmacists to identify people who may be misusing the products and offer them counselling and referral to a doctor or other health care professional for further assessment and appropriate care,” Mr Thiu said.

“This decision can be changed as Mr Hazzard can regulate to allow pharmacists to give people in acute pain a limited three day supply in conjunction with mandating real time monitoring that is already in place in the majority of pharmacies.

“If Mr Hazzard does this it will allow pharmacists to identify and help those people who may be misusing the products, while at the same time allowing the vast majority of people who use products appropriately and safely for the short term treatment of acute pain continued access to the products without a prescription.

“State MPs have the power to help people in pain by simply asking Mr Hazzard to make this change.

“With the clock ticking towards February 1, we are issuing an urgent call to any local people who share our concerns to contact local member Steph Cooke and Brad Hazzard on 02 8574 6000 or email office@hazzard.minister.nsw.gov.au so that they may represent you are State level where there is still scope for a more commonsense solution,” Mr Thiu said.