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Over the Counter Sales of Codeine Ends 1st February 2018

1/19/2018 6:14:56 AM

From 1 February 2018, medicines that contain low-dose codeine will no longer be available without prescription in pharmacies.

  • These include products like. Codeine-containing combination painkillers (available under brand names such as Panadeine, Nurofen Plus, Mersyndol and pharmacy generic pain relief products).
  • Codeine-containing cough, cold and flu products (available under brand ranges such as Codral, Demazin and pharmacy generic cough, cold and flu medicines).


Why is access to low-dose codeine-containing medicines changing?

The TGA has made the decision to make codeine products prescription only based on the following evidence and advice:   

  • There is substantial evidence of harm from the abuse and misuse of low dose codeine-containing medicines.
  • For most individuals, there is little evidence that low-dose codeine medicines are more effective than alternative medicines without codeine.
  • Low-dose codeine-containing medicines are not intended to treat long term conditions; however, public consultation has indicated that this is how most consumers use these medicines.
  • Additionally, some individuals, especially children, experience serious adverse reactions when given codeine, such as difficulty breathing and death.


How and where to get advice

Most people should be able to manage acute pain or cough and cold symptoms with safer alternative medicines. For acute pain, this may include products containing paracetamol or ibuprofen, or the two products in combination. Your pharmacist will be able to provide advice on the most appropriate medicines for you, particularly if you have any other medical conditions, such as stomach, kidney, liver or heart problems.

Talk to your doctor

People with ongoing pain should talk to their doctor or healthcare provider to determine better alternative treatment options. These may include: alternative over-the-counter or prescription medicines; non-medicine therapies from an allied health professional such as a physiotherapist; self-management tools such as exercise or relaxation; or referral to a pain specialist or pain management clinic.  If you think that you are unable to manage without codeine and experience some of the side effects of withdrawal talk to your doctor about getting help.