Nurses are well aware of the common use of  drugs containing Codeine. Did you know about the changes being made in regards to  the public accessing products containing Codeine.? From 1st February 2018 , they will be available on prescription only!

The following is provided from the TGA website.

‘Codeine in over the counter (OTC) combination analgesics and codeine dependence contributes to severe adverse health outcomes associated with overdose of other active constituents such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. There is substantial evidence of harm from abuse or misuse of codeine-containing medicines, including liver damage, gastrointestinal perforations, respiratory depression and death. The Department of Health, through the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), has reviewed OTC access to codeine-containing medicines in Australia to ensure that regulation protects public health and safety.

After significant consideration and consultation on the effects of medicines containing codeine on people’s health and wellbeing, Australia’s medicine’s regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), has decided that products containing codeine will not be able to be sold over the counter in pharmacies, making such products available on prescription only.

This change does not come into place until 1 February 2018 so there will be no change to the availability of products occurring now or in 2017.

The change in scheduling of products containing codeine from OTC (over-the counter Schedule 2/3) medicines to Schedule 4 prescription medicines will mean that people who wish to use painkiller medicines containing codeine will have to obtain a prescription from their GP or health care provider or use an alternative OTC product such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or a combination of these drugs.’

According to the TGA website  ‘the TGA decision maker took into consideration compelling evidence of the harm caused by overuse and abuse of OTC codeine containing medicines, as well as the fact that the USA, most of Europe, Hong Kong, Japan, the United Arab Emirates and several other countries have already stopped codeine-containing products from being sold without prescription.’

Low dose codeine-containing medicines are not intended to treat long term conditions, however public consultation indicated that many consumers used these products to self-treat chronic pain. This meant that consumers frequently became addicted to codeine.

An independent modelling report by KPMG, modelled the impacts of the proposed changes to scheduling. ‘The key findings of the modelling was that a net financial benefit to society could only be achieved when codeine was up-scheduled to prescription only, which would result in reduced deaths from accidental or deliberate codeine overdose, improved quality of life, and reduced codeine dependence and reduced risk of dependency.

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