Prescriptions needed for codeine

ALL medicines containing codeine, such as some pain, cold and flu medicines, will be available by prescription only from tomorrow (February 1).

Acting ACT chief health officer Dr Paul Dugdale says the changes are part of a national decision to protect the community from the harms associated with codeine use.

“Low dose codeine has been widely used for pain relief. There is growing evidence that the harms arising from over‑the‑counter codeine use and misuse substantially outweigh the benefits,” Dr Dugdale says. 

“The change presents an opportunity for GPs and pharmacists to advise consumers about alternative pain management in line with clinical evidence. Other over‑the‑counter medicines such as paracetamol and ibuprofen have been shown to be at least as effective as codeine products that are currently available over-the-counter.

“We do not anticipate hospital emergency department or GP waiting times to be significantly impacted as a result of the changes, due to the availability of alternative medicines.

“ACT residents who are currently taking medicines containing codeine or are in need of ongoing pain relief should visit their local GP to develop a treatment plan that will work best for them.”

The change is the result of an extensive review and consultation undertaken by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) through the national medicines scheduling process.

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