On Monday 21st August 2017, a Seminar on the safe use and prescribing of codeine-based medication was hosted by the School of Health Sciences, Waterford Institute of Technology as part of the ongoing dissemination activities of the €2.04 million CODEMISUSED FP7 EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) IAPP project. The seminar was open to the public and was of particular relevance to pharmacists, retail staff and anyone interested in issues around the management of codeine misuse.
The seminar outlined the development, implementation and value of the 'Codeine Wise Project' which is being rolled out in South Africa, and illustrated how The Local Choice Pharmacy Group now trains pharmacists and their staff to recognise and manage customer codeine misuse. The invited speakers included Mrs. Hanna Du Plessis who is the main course developer for the Pharmacy Development Academy (PDA) South Africa; and Mr. Jaco Du Plessis, who is the South African Pharmacy industry partner on the CODEMISUSED project.
Mrs. Du Plessis is the person principally responsible for the design of the Codeine Wise Project training programme material and assessment at the PDA, commissioned by The Local Choice Pharmacy, with it being a key output of CODEMISUSED. The 'Codeine Wise Project' is being actively rolled out by The Local Choice Pharmacy Group across all its pharmacies in South Africa, quickly becoming the key ethos of the retail pharmacy group. Mr Jaco Du Plessis, who is Managing Director of The Local Choice Pharmacy Group explained that "The Codeine Wise Project is the first in a series of training initiatives for responsible pharmacy practices being rolled out by The Local Choice, and its aim is to acknowledge the positive benefits of codeine, whilst promoting the safe and responsible use and prescribing of codeine-based medication and raise awareness amongst retail pharmacy staff in relation to the potential dangers and side effects of codeine". Mr Du Plessis continued to explain that "The Local Choice Pharmacy chain is quickly growing, with 63 pharmacies currently in operation. It is an essential requirement that new and existing members of the pharmacy group participate in The Codeine Wise Project and ensure their staff receive the training, which is made freely available". Mr Du Plessis noted that "We are not just doing this training for the sake of doing it; but it is carefully designed and selected for its adherence to the 4 key principles on which The Local Choice Pharmacy Group is built, namely, respect, responsibility, integrity and trust - we believe in responsible and safe prescribing practices".
In 2017 PDA was tasked with the development of a training programme for The Local Choice franchise group for their Codeine Wise Project, an initiative that was born out of the CODEMISUSED project (FP7 European Commission Marie Curie Industry-Academic Partnership Pathways). The training programme is aimed at all members of staff across three levels ranging from the cashier at the ground level, to the pharmacy assistants at the middle level, to the actual pharmacists at the upper level, and the training is tailored to suit each of these three distinct levels. Those who participate in the Codeine Wise project training are members of independent community pharmacies who are part of The Local Choice franchise group in South Africa. The training programme was launched at the first annual Local Choice Pharmacy conference in June 2017, in line with the CODEMISUSED project. The training and assessments can be delivered by the PDA through blended and distance learning or through an online learning platform.
Mrs Du Plessis explained that "The Codeine Wise project was purposefully designed and created based on information obtained via key facts and data emerging from the CODEMISUSED project in the form of published reports, factsheets, academic research papers, conferences, discussions between the industry and academic partners and expert advisory group". The training programme is in line with South Africa's National Qualifications Framework (NQF). Mrs Du Plessis emphasised that "Our aim at the PDA and The Local Choice Pharmacy was to develop a training programme based on a model that could be easily transferred outside South Africa, and could be potentially adopted by the CODEMISUSED project's partner countries (Ireland and UK) where pharmacies chains across the UK and Ireland could easily adopt the model". She added that "We wanted the training programme to be designed in such a manner that it could be easily applied to future projects; and The Local Choice Pharmacy will be rolling out future initiatives such as 'The Antibiotic Wise' project and so forth".
The purpose of The Codeine Wise Project is to provide the necessary level of training to suitably equip the three levels (cashier, pharmacy assistant and pharmacist) to responsibly handle the potential negative consequences of codeine, but it aims to equally showcase the positive impact and uses of codeine for effective patient care such as for the treatment of pain, provided that it is prescribed and used in a wise manner. Over-the-Counter (OTC) is the biggest sector of products that a pharmacy can sell, and so The Codeine Wise project aims to train retail pharmacists for its wise use.