Medications codeine will no longer be available over the counter as a new pharmaceutical law comes into effect from February 1.
From then, all products containing codeine, including paracetamol and codeine and ibuprofen and codeine combination products and some cold and flu medications that are currently available over the counter at pharmacies, will now require prescriptions.
According to the Therapeutic Goods Adminstration, codeine can cause opioid tolerance, dependence, addiction, poisoning and in high doses, even death. Regular use of medicines containing codeine, for example for chronic pain, has led to some consumers becoming addicted to codeine without realising it.
This has prompted the State Government to tighten restrictions on the sale of the product as part of its new real-time prescription monitoring system which passed through parliament in October last year. The new monitoring system provides doctors, nurse practitioners and pharmacists access to an up-to-the-minute database to review prescription histories of patients in their care and enable safer clinical decisions.
Millikan’s Pharmacy pharmacist Kah Shin said the changes will make it harder for people who currently use the medication to access it.
“The change will mean that it will be harder for people who have genuine need and are using these medications safely to treat minor or acute pain to access treatment, especially in a town like Maryborough where it is hard enough as it is for patients to get an appointment to see a GP,” she said.
For more on this story see the Page 3 of The Advertiser, Friday, January 19.