Seven things pharmacy assistants can say, and two they should not

Author: Heather Sexena, originally published in Pharmacy News

The TGA has issued instructions to guide pharmacy assistants on what they can say to patients before and after all codeine products become prescription-only next year.

The TGA says there can be a fine line between patient education and advertising, “especially if the content and presentation of information intended for educational material is not impartial”.

Pharmacy assistants can or should:

  1. Give generic or trade names of individual products (or a list of products) that will no longer be available over the counter from 1 February.
  2. Give generic or trade names of particular analgesic or cough and cold products that will continue to be available over-the-counter after 1 February.
  3. Discuss non-medicinal options, such as lifestyle changes or devices, as alternatives for pain management.
  4. Discuss non-medicinal options for cough and cold management.
  5. When mentioning products, it is best to mention several products available from a range of companies to avoid promoting a particular product.
  6. Ensure that all information is factual and balanced.
  7. If the customer has severe or chronic pain, or severe cold or influenza symptoms, encourage them to discuss their condition with the pharmacist.

Pharmacy assistants should not:

  1. Encourage consumers to stock up ahead of February 2018 by purchasing multiple packs of codeine-containing medicines.
  2. Use superlatives such as “this is great” to describe product performance.