- From 1 February 2018, medicines that contain low-dose codeine are no longer available without prescription.
- The medicines affected include codeine-containing combination analgesics, available under brand names such as Panadeine, Nurofen Plus and Mersyndol, and pharmacy generic pain relief products, and codeine-containing cough, cold and flu products, available under brand ranges such as Codral, Demazin and pharmacy generic cough, cold and flu medicines.
- Research shows that low-dose (< 30 mg) codeine-containing products, formerly available over the counter, offered little additional pain relief when compared to similar medicines without codeine.
- There is evidence to suggest that paracetamol/ibuprofen combinations available as a single pill can be offered as an alternative to codeine-based analgesics for short-term management of pain in patients able to take NSAIDs and for whom paracetamol alone is not sufficient.
How to answer the top 5 codeine up-scheduling consumer concerns
Debbie Rigby, Advanced Practice Pharmacist and NPS MedicineWise board member, offers tips to pharmacists to address key consumer concerns about OTC codeine changes.
Medicinewise News: After over-the-counter codeine: opportunities for better care
With low-dose codeine becoming prescription-only from 1 February 2018, health professionals and communities are preparing for the change. Find out more about transitioning to a post-OTC codeine world.
Supporting patients with codeine dependence
For pharmacists - talking to your patients about the changes in codeine access
From 1 February 2018, all medicines containing codeine require a prescription.
You may want to suggest the use of alternative products that are available over the counter, or advise the patient to discuss their pain and cough, cold and flu management options with their GP.
Over-the-counter codeine: hospitalisation costs revealed
With codeine requiring a prescription from 1 February 2018, attention is being focussed on hard data supporting the decision. New research analyses hospital admissions to a large Australian hospital to quantify the costs of OTC codeine misuse. These costs are significant and form just part of the total costs to both patient health and the healthcare system.