Law change making painkillers prescription

People who take popular painkiller drugs including Panadeine, Dispirin Forte and Nurofen Plus are warned to prepare for new rules banning over the counter codeine products starting on February 1.

This ban is on top of codeine being removed from other drugs including Codral and Dimetapp.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration said over the counter medicines containing codeine for pain relief offer little benefit when compared with medicines without codeine, though the use of such medicines is associated with higher health risks.

Regular use of medicines containing codeine can lead to some individuals becoming addicted to codeine. Other risks include dependence, poisoning and in high doses, death.

Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt said, “Over the counter codeine products have been estimated to be a factor in nearly 100 deaths each year.”

Mr Hunt said there is evidence that three in four painkiller misusers had abused an over the counter codeine product in the last 12 months.

Pharmacist in charge at Flannery’s Pharmacy, Tracey Edwards, said there are other alternatives for pain management.

“Please make the time to talk with your pharmacist or other healthcare professional before February 1 to insure your pain management is not disrupted by the regulation changes.”

Mrs Edwards said the cold and flu formulations are being changed to provide relief without the use of codeine.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia and Pharmaceutical Society of Australia have developed several training modules to assist pharmacy staff in providing information and guidance to consumers.

Pharmacies will continue to provide advice and assistance to patients regarding pain management and safe and appropriate use of medicines. 

Pharmacy staff are available without appointment to to discuss individual requirements.

Mrs Edwards said, “See this as an opportunity to reassess your pain levels and management plan.”