Changes to Accessing Codeine-Containing Medication

From February 1 2018, medications containing codeine will require a presciption. Find out what this means for you, and what you can do to prepare.
What is codeine used for and what over-the-counter medications is it used in?
Codeine is most commonly used to manage mild to moderate pain, sometimes in conjunction with other drugs, such as paracetamol or aspirin.

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.

Why are the changes happening?
Currently, medications containing codeine are available without a prescription and most Australians are unaware that over-the-counter medicines containing codeine for pain relief offer very little additional benefit when compared with medicines without codeine.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has identified that due to side effects and potential for misuse, codeine should be available by prescription only. As of February 1 2018, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has advised that medicines that contain low-dose codeine will no longer be available without one.

What should I do to prepare?
If you currently use medications containing codeine, now is the perfect time to discuss the impact these changes may have on your pain management plan with your doctor or health professional.