Calls for a real-time monitoring system in place of codeine up-scheduling has seen the Pharmacy Guild face blame for being “irresponsible” and “passing the buck”. The Guild claimed last week that the proposed change of codeine products to S4 would lead to an extra 8.7 million GP visits per year, equivalent to $316 million in […]
Calls for a real-time monitoring system in place of codeine up-scheduling has seen the Pharmacy Guild face blame for being “irresponsible” and “passing the buck”.
The Guild claimed last week that the proposed change of codeine products to S4 would lead to an extra 8.7 million GP visits per year, equivalent to $316 million in MBS spending, as patients sought the drug.
According to the Guild, this figure, based on findings from a recent report by Canberra-based economics group, far outstrips the cost of a real-time monitoring system.
But Dr Evan Ackermann, Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee on Quality Care, is highly sceptical of the estimated impact on GPs and cost to the federal government.
“Sadly, it appears the report by Cadence Economics is another shameless attempt by the Pharmacy Guild to protect a multimillion dollar income stream, rather than addressing a health problem,” he said.
Instead, it is time for professional pharmacists to “step up” in addressing a real drug problem in Australia, he said.
“Pharmacists have been saying endlessly that they have a role in drug safety, yet when this is tested the pharmacy profession backs away,” he said. “Transferring responsibility and requesting a real-time drug monitoring system is just passing the buck and irresponsible.”
The report, by independent economic analysis firm Cadence Economics, was released in a last-ditch effort by the Guild to stop the proposed up-scheduling.
The TGA and the Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling will make their final decision later this month.
By the Guild’s figures, a real-time monitoring system would cost $300,000 to establish and another $300,000 per year to maintain.
“Whichever way you look at it, this proposed up-scheduling does not provide value-for-money either for patients or for the Australian taxpayer,” the Guild’s Executive Director David Quilty said.
“More tellingly, the up-scheduling that is being proposed will do little or nothing to address any issues of addiction while disadvantaging the overwhelming majority of Australians who use these medicines responsibly,” he said in a statement.
In 2014, there were 16.4 million sales of codeine-including analgesics and 5.2 million cold-and-flu sales.
The report calculated that 53% of pain patients would visit their GP if OTC codeine medications were unavailable, based on data from a 2014 survey by Macquarie University. GP visits were costed at a weighted average price of $36.41.
Additional costs accrued to the PBS and by people going to their GPs for cold-and-flu medication were ignored, on the assumption that the costs were negligible and that people would choose less effective OTC painkillers, respectively.