Don't make codeine a prescription drug says pharmacy association
South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) wants the popular over-the-counter pain medication codeine to be sold on prescription only - unless the industry can come up with a viable alternative.
There are concerns, however, that prescription-only route would see a plummet in sales of the currently over-the-counter medication.
Pharmaceutical manufacturer Adcock-Ingram believes it would be hard hit by such a move.
The CEO of Independent Community Pharmacy Association (ICPA), Jackie Maymen speaks to Clement Manyathela on The Midday Report.
At the moment SAHPRA has requested proposals from industry on how to control codeine-containing products at the current level which is scheduled 2 without needing to scheduling it to prescription medication.Jackie Maymen, CEO - Independent Community Pharmacy Association
She says the ICPA agrees that codeine does need to be better controlled because of its high levels of misuse and abuse in the cycle of addiction.
However, to up schedule, the medicine will decrease accessibility to legitimate patients who cannot afford a doctor's visit to obtain a prescription, she says.
And up scheduling does not necessarily reduce abuse.Jackie Maymen, CEO - Independent Community Pharmacy Association
She says many interest groups have looked into better controls as the abuse of the effects of the product impacts them. Pharmaceutical companies, for example, have trucks hijacked and shipments go missing, she explains.
Maymen says they believe they can put a proposal forward to SAHPRA ensuring better monitoring and control from the point of manufacture through to patient handover.
We believe that by putting these in place, we can make sure that our children are not exposed to the dangers of addiction and overuse of opiates which is basically similar to heroin, while still making sure that the general public still has access to a stronger pain killer.Jackie Maymen, CEO - Independent Community Pharmacy Association
Codeine-containing medication sold over-the-counter (OTC) are in the top 50 highest sold medications, she says.
It is a very large market in South Africa. probably too large...those products should be reserved for when you have severe pain. You shouldn't be popping a codeine-containing product when you have a mild headache.Jackie Maymen, CEO - Independent Community Pharmacy Association
Rather use paracetamol or ibuprofen for mild pain.
She says research conducted resulted in 2% of those surveyed admitting they took codeine products for how it made them feel rather than pain relief, she says.
Listen to the interview below:
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