NPS Media Releases – 1. Codeine dependency – is it more common than we think? 2. Video guidance on the five commonly asked questions about codeine changes 3. Speakers announced for National Medicines Symposium 2018

1. Codeine dependency – is it more common than we think?
23 January 2018

Codeine-containing medicines will become prescription only from next week. An editorial in Australian Prescriber explains that this change was made because of increasing concerns about codeine dependency in Australia.

Clinical pharmacologist Darren Roberts and senior research fellow Suzanne Nielsen write that it is possible that people with codeine dependency will emerge months after the change if they have been stockpiling the drugs.

“Australian data show that the typical codeine user is well-educated and employed, and that codeine dependency is a largely hidden problem,” they write.

“People with substance disorders are not always readily identified by stereotyped external features or behaviours. They are often hesitant to disclose substance use, if indeed they acknowledge that their use is problematic.”

Up to now these people have been able to obtain codeine from pharmacies without a prescription, so they are likely to present themselves to GPs once their supplies have run out.

If someone feels they may be dependent on codeine, it is important they discuss their concerns with a health professional.

Read the full article. 


2. Video guidance on the five commonly asked questions about codeine changes
23 January 2018

NPS MedicineWise — an independent and not-for-profit organisation that produces evidence-based articles — has developed an invaluable resource for pharmacists and pharmacy assistants as they field questions and concerns from patients in the final days before over-the-counter (OTC) codeine becomes a prescription-only medicine after 1 February 2018.

In this short, informative video Debbie Rigby, Advanced Practice Pharmacist and NPS MedicineWise Board member, gives tips on talking to patients about the impending codeine changes in the run-up to 1 February 2018.

The five questions were curated from most common complaints and questions aired on social media about the upcoming changes. Ms Rigby offers suggestions on how to address these patients’ concerns and how to encourage them to seek advice and care from appropriate healthcare professionals.

Questions and comments include “Panadol and Nurofen alone do not touch my pain… Ridiculous!”, and ‘To those who say codeine doesn’t help chronic pain, do you even know what it’s like to have chronic pain??!”

Ms Rigby says, “Our role in the pharmacy is to have the conversation with patients to help them understand the biopsychosocial model of chronic pain particularly, and to shift their expectations towards improving their function rather than expecting a cure for their pain.”

To access the video visit


3. Speakers announced for National Medicines Symposium 2018
1 February 2018

NPS MedicineWise is pleased to announce the keynote speakers for the 10th National Medicines Symposium (NMS) – Population to Personal Health Care: The Future is Now. The conference will deliver key industry speakers to discuss healthcare innovation, advancements and best practice in medication management and policy.

A broad selection of local and international speakers are scheduled for the conference agenda, including; Dr Hans-Georg Eichler, Professor Jeremy Nicholson, Dr John Mattick, Dr John Skerritt, Jo Watson, Professor Lisa Jackson Pulver and Professor Andrew Wilson.

Topics the speakers will discuss will cover a diverse and meaningful range of concepts and ideas. Prof. Nicholson will be discussing molecular phenotyping and systems medicine approaches, while Dr Eichler will share his perspectives on adaptive pathways and contemporary regulation.

NPS MedicineWise Executive Manager and Chair of the NMS 2018 Program Committee Ms Kerren Hosking says she is looking forward to hosting such a diverse range of respected health professionals.

“We have a stellar line-up of insightful speakers for NMS 2018 who have all been responsible for innovative initiatives in clinical settings. Their presentations will challenge perceptions and provide useful insights for fellow health care professionals.”

The keynote speakers for NMS 2018 are as follows:

Dr Hans-Georg Eichler, Senior Medical Officer, European Medicines Agency 
Hans-Georg Eichler, MD, MSc, is the Senior Medical Officer of the European Medicines Agency in London, United Kingdom, where he is responsible for coordinating activities between the Agency’s scientific committees and giving advice on scientific and public health issues.

Professor Jeremy Nicholson, Director, Clinical Phenotyping Centre and Chair in Biological Chemistry, Head of Department Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgery & Cancer
Jeremy K. Nicholson is a professor of biological chemistry and head of the Department of Biomolecular Medicine, Division of Surgery, Oncology, Reproductive Biology and Anaesthetics at Imperial College London. Nicholson is known for having developed metabonomics, also referred to as metabolic profiling. His research interests include spectroscopic and chemometric approaches to the investigation of disturbed metabolic processes in complex organisms.

Professor John Mattick, Executive Director Garvan Institute
John Mattick, AO FAA FAHMS HonFRCPA, has pioneered a new understanding of the information content of the human genome as well as the introduction of genomically-informed precision healthcare, by establishing one of the world’s largest genome sequencing centres and one of the first clinically accredited genome analysis enterprises at the Garvan Institute in Sydney.

Professor Andrew Wilson, Professor and Director, Menzies Centre for Health Policy School of Public Health, University of Sydney
Andrew Wilson is the chair of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee and co-director of the Menzies Centre for Health Policy, University of Sydney. He leads the Australian Prevention Partnership Centre. His research interests concern the application of epidemiology to informing decision making in clinical medicine, public health, and health service policy and planning especially in chronic disease prevention and management.

Dr John Skerritt, Deputy Secretary for Health Products Regulation, Department of Health
John Skerritt is Deputy Secretary for Health Products Regulation in the Commonwealth Department of Health, covering both TGA and the Office of Drug Control. He has extensive experience in medical, agricultural and environmental policy, regulation, research management, technology commercialisation, and is an Adjunct Full Professor at two Australian universities.

Jo Watson, Deputy Chair, Consumers Health Forum (CHF)
Jo Watson has been a consumer advocate in health for several decades. She is the Deputy Chair of the Consumers Health Forum and the Chair of the HTA Consumer Consultative Committee, established within the Commonwealth Department of Health. Jo is a member of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee and became the first Deputy Chair in 2017.

Professor Lisa Jackson Pulver, Pro Vice-chancellor Engagement & Pro Vice-chancellor Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Leadership, Western Sydney University
Lisa Jackson Pulver is a proud Wiradjuri Koori woman. She is an academic leader, a recognised expert in public health and prominent researcher, educator and advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and education. As the inaugural Pro Vice-chancellor, Engagement and Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Leadership, Professor Jackson Pulver leads the University of Western Sydney’s work relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander outcomes.

More information

NMS 2018 is NPS MedicineWise’s tenth symposium. It will take place from 30 May until 1 June 2018 at the National Convention Centre, Canberra.

Abstract submissions and expressions of interest for delegates and event sponsors are now open.

For more information and to register for more information or to submit an abstract, visit   

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