Codeine-containing medicines to be prescription only

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Attention all dentists—get out your prescription pads.

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 made a decision.

From 1 February 2018, products containing codeine will  not be able to be sold over the counter (OTC) in pharmacies, making such products available on prescription only.

The change in scheduling of products containing codeine from over-the-counter Schedule 2/3 medicines to Schedule 4 prescription medicines means that people who wish to use painkiller medicines containing codeine will have to obtain a prescription from their health care provider—in this case, their dentist—or use an alternative OTC product such as paracetamol.

In making this decision, the TGA 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.

More information, including a copy of the Regulation Impact Statement, is available here.

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