Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) is leading a €2 million research project, known as‘CODEMISUSED’, into codeine use, misuse and dependence in Ireland, the UK and South Africa.
As part of this research project, WIT will be collaborating closely with the CARA Pharmacy Group and other industry and educational institutions.
Codeine, the most commonly consumed opiate in the world, is an over- the- counter (OTC) painkiller and anti-diarrhoeal. Although its effects are milder than heroin, the abuse potential for codeine is a major concern for medics, pharmacists and addiction treatment providers. People can become physically dependent on codeine in as little as three days, as metabolism of codeine varies from person to person, thus making estimation of safe dosages, and potential for addiction difficult.
According to Dr Marie Claire Van Hout, Principal Investigator for the project,
“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”.
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”.
During the 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. Codeine sales are already subject to Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland Regulation.
The CODEMISUSED collaboration aims to estimate and gain further understanding into the extent of codeine use, misuse and dependence in Ireland, the UK and South Africa, in order 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. This 48 month project is supported by an Expert Advisory Panel with representatives of the European Medicines Agency, European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, Pharmaceutical Society of South Africa and Royal Pharmaceutical Society UK.
The CODEMISUSED Project was selected for funding under the FP7 Marie Curie Industry Academia Partnership and Pathways strand and has been accepted onto the register of EC funded studies on the ENCePP register of the EMA.
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 research colleagues at WIT consist of Prof John Wells, Dr Michael Bergin, Dr Martina Gooney and Dr Michelle Foley.