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Codeine Care Initiative

Introducing the Codeine Care Initiative

The newest innovation in pharmaceutical care is the launch of the Codeine Care Initiative – a very simple process that aims to help you understand and responsibly manage the use of medicines that contain codeine.

Why codeine?

While codeine is a very effective painkiller and cough suppressant, it can also be addictive. In South Africa, many medicines containing codeine are currently available for purchase in pharmacies as over-the-counter (OTC) products, and as the purchase of these medicines is not nationally monitored it is difficult to regulate these purchases. It is possible for example to buy one product containing codeine from your local pharmacy, and then another from a different pharmacy, without either pharmacist being the wiser. As such this accumulative use could lead to the misuse of codeine-containing products.

This is where the Codeine Care Initiative will play a key role in helping to regulate the sale of products that contain codeine and at the same time help to address, curb and ultimately prevent codeine medication misuse by providing information and links to helplines as a key to better responsible self-care and self-medication. It also aims to allow your pharmacist to know what your codeine medicine purchase history is so that he or she can be certain you don’t misuse the products.

While codeine is a very effective painkiller and cough suppressant, it can also be addictive. In South Africa, many medicines containing codeine are currently available for purchase in pharmacies as over-the-counter (OTC) products, and as the purchase of these medicines is not nationally monitored it is difficult to regulate these purchases. It is possible for example to buy one product containing codeine from your local pharmacy, and then another from a different pharmacy, without either pharmacist being the wiser. As such this accumulative use could lead to the misuse of codeine-containing products. This is where the Codeine Care Initiative will play a key role in helping to regulate the sale of products that contain codeine and at the same time help to address, curb and ultimately prevent codeine medication misuse by providing information and links to helplines as a key to better responsible self-care and self-medication. It also aims to allow your pharmacist to know what your codeine medicine purchase history is so that he or she can be certain you don’t misuse the products.
The initiative will use a 2D barcode printed on the packs of all codeine containing medicines and a very secure central database to monitor the national purchase of these medicines. Your prescription medicines that contain codeine will also be added to this national database, whether you get them from your pharmacy or even if you get them from your doctor or from the hospital. The roll-out to doctors will occur after the roll-out to pharmacies.

The product information for both the pharmacist and consumer to access is embedded in a TrustaTAG which is the 2D barcode printed on your pack. You can access easy-to-read information about the medicine, such as dosage, drug interactions etc. by using the free app on either your feature or smart phone and simply scanning the TrustaTAG on pack. Browse to http://gettag.mobi to access the free app and follow the instructions given. The system detects the type of mobile phone being used and prompts users on how to download and install the app.

Although the process might sound a little complicated, it is in fact very simple – take a look at this infographic that shows you exactly how the process works.

CCI(Infographic)
If you are concerned that you or someone you know might be misusing codeine containing medication, follow this quick checklist by answering 'yes' or 'no':

• Are you unable to get through a week without taking medicine that contains codeine?

• Are you unable to stop using codeine containing medication when you want to?

• Do you ever feel bad or guilty for using medicine that contains codeine when it was not needed?

• Has using codeine created problems between you and other people in your life?

• Have you ever experienced any of the symptoms listed below when taking codeine containing medicine regularly?

Symptoms of potential codeine medication misuse:

• Difficulty breathing

• Drowsiness

• Nausea

• A need to increase the dose

• Stomach pain

• Runny nose

• Continued headaches

If you have answered ‘Yes’ to any of the questions above, we recommend talking to your healthcare professional, pharmacist or contacting a helpline such as Lifeline. If you scan the TrustaTAG on your pack you will see the number for the medical helpline of the company that manufactures the product.