James de Villiers , Business Insider SA Jan 23, 2020, 06:37 AM
The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) is considering “up-scheduling” codeine medicines in the country.
Codeine-containing medicines, such as Adco-dol and Nurofen Plus, are currently schedule-two medicines in South Africa, and therefore accessible over the counter at pharmacies.
In future, consumers may have to get prescriptions from a doctor for these and other codeine-containing medicines.
The SAHPRA says codeine products are widely abused in South Africa, but that there is no timeline as to when a final decision will be made.
Business Insider South Africa spoke to Adcock Ingram and Aspen Pharmacare, major producers of codeine products in South Africa, as well as to pharmacists, about which medicines will move to prescription-only if SAHPRA’s proposal is implemented.
Adcock Ingram provided a comprehensive list of products, but Aspen Pharmacare said releasing a list would be “premature”.
Business Insider, therefore, cross-checked Aspen products with pharmacists to gain a comprehensive list of codeine products that will be affected. These include:
These do no include the various generic versions of codeine products sold in South Africa.
South African Medical Research Council’s Charlies Parry believes that the SAHPRA should put stricter limits on the number of tablets an individual can get from a pharmacy, instead of forcing people to get prescriptions for it.
Adcock Ingram is the largest supplier of codeine-containing medicines in South Africa – which contribute 10% of its sales. A spokesperson told Business Insider SA that “up-scheduling” codeine-containing products would deny patients who may not afford or have access to doctors medicines they need.
Aspen Pharmacare strategic trade senior executive Stavros Nicolau said a balance needs to be achieved between the responsible sale of codeine-containing products in order to prevent their abuse potential while making them accessible to patients for responsible medicinal use.
This balance can be achieved by significantly strengthening dispensing and sales controls and ensuring that these controls are robustly monitored, Nicolau said.