A TAMWORTH GP has said a “real-time” monitoring system for over-the-counter codeine sales wouldn’t work.
Dr Ian Kamerman said there was “no evidence” the doses used in over-the-counter codeine “made any difference at all” and it was “sub-therapeutic”.
Low-dose codeine drugs have previously been doled-out by pharmacists to treat acute pain associated with “period pain, toothache and migraine”.
However, from February 1, products such as Nurofen Plus, Mersyndol and Panadeine will need a doctor’s prescription.
State MP Kevin Anderson said the by move by the Therapeutic Goods Administration could be detrimental to the health of regional Australians.
“It’s difficult enough to get in and see a doctor, it’s difficult enough for small centres to get doctors anyway,” Mr Anderson said.
“To be able to get a prescription to start with, they are on the back-foot and it could be detrimental to their health.”
Mr Anderson wants a currently non-compulsory program monitoring codeine sales to be rolled-out nationally.
The program, “med-assist”, can prevent “pharmacy shopping” and prescription drug abuse by recording the purchaser’s identification and codeine items bought.
Shoppingworld’s Amcal chemist has been using the program and its pharmacists said it has been successful so far.
“It works by recording the form of ID and we record the product and their reason for use and it brings up how recent their last supply was,” pharmacist Jennifer Wauch said.
“We will refuse supply if we believe it’s too early.”
Meanwhile, Dr Kamerman, who has a special interest in addiction medicine, said low-dose codeine’s side effects and lack of efficacy meant he’d be reluctant to prescribe it after February 1.
“One of the major issues with codeine in the over-the-counter variety is it’s often with paracetamol which, in large doses, could lead to liver toxicity or failure, or ibuprofen which could lead to gastric ulcers,” he said.
Dr Kamerman said real-time monitoring for codeine had been “shown not to work”, because not every pharmacist does it and manufacturers were turning away from codeine.
He said there should be a real-time monitor for all pharmacists and doctors to access all prescriptions given to patients across Australia.
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