New secret shopper study criticises pharmacists

A new “secret shopper” study has accused pharmacies of failing to establish a real need for codeine-containing painkillers before selling them.

And once they’ve sold the drugs, only 17% of pharmacists in the study provided adequate safety advice, according to the study published in Research in Social & Administrative Pharmacy.

In 145 pharmacy visits, secret shoppers were able to buy the codeine-containing Nurofen Plus in 75% of cases, with lack of photo ID the only reason for being refused.

In fewer than half of pharmacy visits secret shoppers received adequate questioning to establish therapeutic need for the painkiller, the researchers from Melbourne’s La Trobe University found.

Just 8% of the shoppers were asked about symptom duration to identify ongoing codeine use, which requires GP referral for a pain management plan.

When treatment was refused due