TURNBULL HAS BUNGLED CODEINE UPSCHEDULING
Today’s upscheduling of medicines containing codeine is a significant change for Australians using these medicines to manage chronic pain, but the Government’s failure to communicate properly has left the two million Australians who use these products confused and concerned.
There’s a reason that Australians are so concerned about the decision to make codeine prescription-only – the Turnbull Government has left Australians in the dark and failed to provide timely information about changing products.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration confirmed this decision in December 2016, but the Government didn’t start communicating the change to consumers until more than a year later – leaving Australians who use codeine for pain management only a few months to transition to other options.
In July 2017, Labor wrote to the Government asking for steps to urgently be put in place to manage the transition and make sure Australians weren’t caught out. But the Government didn’t commence any community outreach activity until December.
It is also concerning that the Government has failed to implement a national system to monitor prescription-drugs in time for this change – leaving the possibility that people will doctor-shop and stockpile in reaction to the upscheduling.
Pharmacies were able to monitor the purchase of codeine through the MedsAssist system, but with the change to prescription-only, this national oversight is not in place.
Today’s transition also highlights the Government’s failure to implement a National Pain Strategy that improves access to effective forms of pain relief.
The up-scheduling of codeine to be prescription only today might be the right decision, but the Turnbull Government has completely bungled the transition.
THURSDAY, 1 FEBRUARY 2018