January 5, 2018

Rescheduling of codeine

painkillers and stethoscope on laptop

As of the 1st of February 2018, all medicines containing codeine will no longer be available without a prescription.

Codeine is used to provide relief from a number of conditions, including:

  • mild to moderate pain
  • severe pain (when combined with aspirin or paracetamol)
  • dry irritating cough
  • diarrhoea
  • cold and flu (when combined with antihistamines and decongestants).

The decision to reschedule codeine was made after public consultation indicated that many consumers used these products to self-treat chronic pain. Low dose codeine-based medicines are not intended to treat long-term conditions. Regular long-term use can result in overuse and dependence, which is an increasing problem in Australia. The United States, Germany and Japan have already restricted over the counter sales of codeine-based medications.

Some of the products that will be affected include:

  • combination analgesics such as Panadeine®, Nurofen Plus®, Mersyndol® and generic pharmacy pain relief products
  • codeine-containing cough, cold and flu products such as Codral®, Demazin® and generic pharmacy cough, cold and flu medicines.

Codeine concerns

If you are concerned about your own or a friend's use of codeine and the rescheduling of codeine to prescription only, there is confidential help available:

  • Talk with your doctor or other health professionals
  • Call the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) in your state or territory.

Further information

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