The Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand (the Guild) is looking forward to learning the outcome of the latest Medicines Classification Committee (MCC) meeting that was held this week.
The meeting agenda contained some proposals that Guild members feel very strongly towards. In particular, the proposal that liquid oral-form ibuprofen for children aged three months and up, and liquid form paracetamol labelled for children aged one year and up, be re-classified from pharmacy-only medicines to general sale.
There is great concern among Guild member pharmacies that the loss of communication between patients and a pharmacy staff member during the purchase of these medicines involves a huge safety risk and could lead to accidental overdose, among other outcomes.
Guild Chief Executive, Lee Hohaia, commented: “Pharmacists are medicines experts and pharmacy staff are fully trained to know how to counsel patients during the sale of liquid ibuprofen and paracetamol in oral form.
“Losing this vital contact at the point of sale of these products could be incredibly dangerous, and the enormous response we received through a member-only survey regarding the agenda supports this feeling.
Indeed, the Guild wrote in opposition of the proposals in its submission to the MCC.
“The intention of the Ministry of Health is for New Zealand’s medicines system to deliver ‘optimal use of medicines resulting in optimal health outcomes.’ For liquid paracetamol and liquid ibuprofen, optimal outcomes can be derived through ensuring access to a health professional at the point of supply of these medicines. Optimal outcomes are arguably even more important in young children, who are a particularly vulnerable group in our society” the submission said.
In addition to the overdose potential among patients or caregivers who are not used to the dosage requirements of these medicines, Guild member pharmacies raised concerns about delayed doctor visits, use for unintended purposes, use more often than is necessary and a potential increase in the view that “if it’s on general sale, it must be safe”.
The Guild supported other proposals on the MCC agenda and understands that outcomes of the meeting will be known in approximately 4 to 8 weeks.
Media contact: Lee Hohaia – 021 220 8587
• The Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand (Inc) is a national membership organisation representing community pharmacy owners. We provide leadership on all issues affecting the sector and we advocate for the business and professional interests of community pharmacy.
• For additional information on the Guild and community pharmacy, please go to www.pgnz.org.nz.