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Codeine-Containing Medicines: Harms and Changes to Patient Access

Date posted: 2 May 2017

From 1 February 2018, medicines that contain low-dose codeine will no longer be available without prescription in pharmacies. Codeine is an opioid drug closely related to morphine and, like morphine, is derived from opium poppies.

Codeine can cause opioid tolerance, dependence, addiction, poisoning and in high doses, death. Regular use of medicines containing codeine, for example for chronic pain, has led to some consumers becoming addicted to codeine. Codeine is also sometimes used in medicines to relieve the symptoms of cough and colds.

A Nationally Coordinated Codeine Implementation Working Group (NCCIWG) has been established with representatives from state and territory health departments and peak professional bodies representing consumers, pharmacists and medical professionals. The purpose of this working group is to assist with the implementation of a communication and engagement strategy to help inform the community of the upcoming changes to the availability of low-dose codeine containing medicines from 1 February 2018.

The current range of codeine-containing over-the-counter medicines will continue to be available without a prescription in pharmacies until 31 January 2018.

Source: Australian Government Department of Health Therapeutic Goods Administration


Last updated: 2 May 2017
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