Chronic Pain Ireland Response to Codeine potentially being removed from Over The Counter sales.
CPI fully supports any action that increases patient safety when it comes to opioid medications, however, patients living with chronic pain face up to two year delays in accessing pain specialists and pain management services. This is now compounded by the current shortage of GPs around the country. Removing Codeine from OTC sales will add to already overly long wait times for required prescriptions for pain relief medication and treatments and will have a serious impact on the quality of life of our members and others who live with chronic pain issues.
Currently the average waiting list to see a Pain Specialist is 2 + years on the public system. While waiting to see the specialist, the patient must rely on their GP and OTC pain relief medication. Due to the current GP shortage our members are reporting an average of 2 weeks before they can secure an appointment to see their GP. Anecdotally our members have also experienced hesitancy from GPs to prescribe any opioid based medication – adding to the concerns expressed by our members if the sale of Codeine is no longer available OTC.
CPI are calling on the government to ensure that adequate supports and services are in place for patients with chronic pain before any measures are introduced to withdraw Codeine from OTC sales. Measures such as increasing the number of Pain Specialists available in the public health system as well as providing more accessible pain clinics, with multidisciplinary teams in community settings, are vital to help patients living with chronic pain.
CPI supports calls for more robust support for pharmacists, including additional recruitment, to allow pharmacists more time with patients ensuring that regulations surrounding OTC sales of Codeine continue to be met.
Any review of the legislation and regulation in general around the sale of over-the-counter painkillers containing codeine needs to look at the whole issue of pain management and ensure rapid accessibility to services.
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