Did you know? If used correctly medicines that contain codeine can play a very important role in managing your pain, cough or diarrhoea. However, if these medicines are misused they can lead to tolerance and dependence and can cause other harmful health effects.
In a bid to curb potential misuse of codeine-containing medicines, the Codeine Care Initiative, a new innovation in pharmaceutical care by the Community Pharmacy Sector (CPS) and Pharmaceutical Society of South Africa (PSSA), has been launched to help consumers and patients understand and responsibly manage the use of over-the-counter products that contain codeine and help address, curb and ultimately prevent misuse.
“In South Africa, many codeine-containing medicines are currently available for purchase in pharmacies as over-the-counter (OTC) products, and usage is especially difficult to regulate as up to now, no national database has existed and this could lead to the abuse and misuse of codeine,” says Allison Vienings, Executive Director of the Self Medication Association of South Africa (SMASA).
With the use of a 2D barcode printed on the packs of all codeine-containing medicines along with a centralised database to track consumers’ buying history, the Codeine Care Initiative will play a key role in monitoring and auditing the sale and supply of codeine-containing products while encouraging responsible self-care and self-medication. Whilst the focus is on OTC codeine-containing medicines, higher scheduled products obtained via a prescription will also be included in the central database as will those prescribed in a hospital for in-patients and out-patients. The plan for the Initiative is in time to roll it out to Dispensing Doctors and to the State. In addition once the Codeine Care Initiative proves successful the industry may well decide to roll this project out to include other misused substances.
“The Codeine Care Initiative is one of which we are extremely proud” says Johan Bothma, Executive Director of CPS, “and the support we have received from multiple spheres is extremely encouraging. This self-regulation initiative aims to not only further equip the pharmacist to better perform his or her ethical duties but most importantly protects the patient and consumer from potential misuse of codeine-containing products. Because a pharmacist at this time is totally unaware of a consumer or patient’s previous purchase or use of codeine-containing medicines from purchases at other pharmacies, and oftentimes the consumer is totally unaware that the product they are taking for pain, or for a cold or flu contains codeine, the pharmacist is not in a position to properly advise the consumer or patient in this regard. The Codeine Care Initiative with its central database empowers both the pharmacist and the consumer to make the correct self-medication choice.” Bothma further emphasises that the legality in terms of informed consent from all sides has been dealt with.
The 2D barcode, termed a TrustaTAG, will also provide both consumers and pharmacists with easy-to-read product information on the correct use of OTC and prescription medicines that contain codeine and links to helplines for Drugwise and in time Lifeline. To access the information, simply scan the TrustaTAG on pack with a free app that is downloadable from http://gettag.mobi on either a feature or smart phone.