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‘They were misinformed’

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The OTC codeine ban is here… but was it handled well and how have your customers reacted?

Last month, in our poll almost 60% of you said you had received “lots” or “some” complaints about the codeine upscheduling. While more than 36% of you said you had seen customers stockpiling.

A pharmacy assistant from a pharmacy in rural Victoria says some regular customers seem to have been attempting to stockpile codeine ahead of the schedule change.

“We had a regular customer come in who regularly buys codeine, but now was asking for it for her husband who had recently injured himself,” explains the staff member.

“She provided his ID details but we were very sceptical that the medicines were for him… we are concerned that we might see more of this.”

However, another complaint was how the change has been handled by manufacturers.

Many thought, given the amount of coverage codeine has received, suppliers should have been better prepared.

“Most other preparations going on prescription [and] still aren’t available in S4 packaging,” said one.

“The hard thing is trying to predict how many codeine products in each different strength we will need on our dispensary shelves because we have no idea if doctors are going to prescribe it or put patients on something else altogether.”

Another frustrated pharmacy assistant said:

“We had a difficult instance where a customer had already been to the doctor and had a prescription written for Mersyndol – but because of stock shortages, we couldn’t even supply it! This caused them frustration and to be honest, it wasn’t fair – since they had been and had the prescription written! The suppliers have not managed the changeover as well.”

While another pharmacy assistant was concerned about a lack of preparation from suppliers.

“The stock should be available now but some have ETA of mid-February. We luckily did order up lines we knew were going s4 which has helped but we have already started to get scripts from customers who said we seemed to be only ones able to fill them. We have spoken local doctors and we have been advising customers of changes for months and helping them with pain management plans but still get a lot customers who haven’t heard or are angry with the decision and different media reports but are respectful toward us.”

And if you’ve had angry, aggressive or upset customers, or have been frustrated by how the upschedule has been handled, tell us about your experience in comments below.


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