Chemists back the Nats on codeine call

National Party candidate for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has announced that her Party wants to give patients access to pain relief medicines containing codeine from their local pharmacist without a script.

Sensible approach: The Nationals Steph Cooke receiving a petition from Pharmacist David Hamblin supporting the Nats codeine call.

Sensible approach: The Nationals Steph Cooke receiving a petition from Pharmacist David Hamblin supporting the Nats codeine call.

From February 1 next year, all medicines containing codeine which were previously available to patients over-the-counter will be moved to prescription-only. The change means a prescription will be needed for all of these medicines. The decision was taken by the Federal medicines regulator to address dependence and abuse issues which were affecting some patients using these medicines inappropriately.

However, Ms Cooke said ​the change would have a heavier impact in rural and regional parts of the State, where timely access to doctors is often limited.  

"Pain doesn't always wait for a doctors appointments and the ability for pharmacists as primary health providers to keep providing that service is essential in regional areas,” she said.

"It has been a pleasure working with the local pharmacists to progress this outcome that both protects the local chemist and assists patients.

"More than 1000 locals signed the petition to keep this ability of chemists to reduce the strain on local ER's and it is a common sense result.”

The National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia George Tambassis welcomed the NSW Nationals support for a common sense approach.

“The Nationals approach will maintain safe and appropriate access to pain relief medicines containing codeine without a prescription from February next year,” he said.

“We all know that simply making these medicines prescription only will not prevent their abuse through doctor-shopping. The Pharmacy Guild has already proactively put real-time monitoring in place – yet no such national system exists for prescription medicines. We are urging State and Territory Governments to put patients first and recognise the value of the proposed system  – maintaining safe access, with safeguards and real-time recording.”