CODEINE: THE LOWDOWN
NPS MedicineWise answers the most commonly asked questions about codeine and the changes ahead.
1 “Why is codeine access changing? I don’t misuse it.” Codeine is an opioid drug and can cause dependence, addiction, poisoning and, in high doses, death. Many Australians become codeine dependent without even realising it. By making codeine prescription-only, it reduces people self-medicating and protects others from future harm.
2 “What if I don’t have the time or money to see a GP?” For short-term pain, such as a headache or a sports injury, a pharmacist can advise about suitable over-the-counter treatments that can be just as effective. However, for chronic pain, a doctor or allied health professional (e.g. physiotherapist) is better placed to develop the most effective approach.
3 “I can’t take anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen due to stomach problems. Is paracetamol my only option?”
Your pharmacist can advise about other over-the-counter treatments, such as heat/cold packs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory ointments, which may be used as an alternative or in addition to paracetamol, to help you manage your pain going forward.