CARA Pharmacy Group is collaborating with Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) in a €2 million research project, known as CODEMISUSED.

The research will be investigating codeine use, misuse and dependence in Ireland, the UK and South Africa. The project hopes to design protective mechanisms for pharmacies to be able to track, monitor, support and refer for treatment. These mechanisms could include pharmacy based brief interventions and continuing staff training.

Dr Marie Claire Van Hout (WIT),
Pádraig McGuinness (CARA Pharmacy)
and Carole Boyd (CARA Pharmacy)
pictured at the recent signing of the
CODEMISUED partner agreement

During the 48 month period of research, staff from WIT and the CARA Group will second to each other’s teams, along with the international partners in the UK and South Africa. There will be no change for patients buying codeine during this time.

Pádraig McGuinness MPSI, Lead Researcher and Pharmacy Services Manager at the CARA Pharmacy Group said, “We are excited to be involved with the research, as it is all part of our ongoing commitment to our core values of care and safety of our patients. Codeine misuse remains a sensitive issue for our pharmacists and for many patients throughout Ireland, and as a pharmacy team who values patient care and safety above all else, we hope the results will ultimately improve the care patients receive from Irish Pharmacy as a whole. CARA is a progressive group of pharmacies with a twenty strong team of pharmacists, and we are delighted to be involved in this internationally recognised research.”

Codeine sales are already subject to Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI) regulation. According to the PSI regulations, a pharmacist must be satisfied that the supply of the particular non-prescription medicine is safe and appropriate, and the pharmacist must use their professional judgement and expertise in deciding how best to deal with the individual patient’s needs. This may involve the supply of a medicine, referral to a GP or other healthcare professional or other advice or information.

There are additional considerations due to the fact that codeine is a controlled drug and the regulations also require that these medicines (along with prescription-only medicines) are not accessible to the public for self-selection. Therefore the PSI recommends the dispensary as the proper location for these medicines.

The advertising of codeine to the public is prohibited – this includes window displays, in-pharmacy displays, shelf stickers and promotional leaflets.

The project Principal Investigator is Dr Marie Claire Van Hout, has extensive experience in the field of drug addiction, and has consulted for the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

Van Hout said, “Given the difficulties in estimating the extent of this respectable form of addiction, CODEMISUSED is intended to promote the rational use of codeine products amongst the public as well as those involved in prescribing and dispensing. Ultimately we intend to design several innovations to support and educate customers, and empower pharmacies as custodians of codeine medicines. I am delighted to work with CARA on this project given the importance of having academia and industry working side by side to improve patient outcomes”.

WIT, as lead partner, is also collaborating closely with other partners, Kings College London, UK; Medical Research Council, South Africa; Weldricks Pharmacy, UK; and Leading Pharmacy Group, South Africa. Dr Van Hout’s team at WIT consists of Prof John Wells, Dr Michael Bergin, Dr Martina Gooney and Michelle Foley.

Joseph Johnston

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