1 February 2018
United General Practice Australia (UGPA) supports the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in its decision to make codeine-based medications available only with a prescription from today.
Evidence shows that over the counter medicines containing codeine provide little additional benefit in pain relief, in comparison to other similar medicines without codeine. However, there are significant risks and side effects from its use. Codeine can be addictive and with regular use, patients can become dependent on it, leading to misuse and in extreme cases, death, with more than 150 Australians dying each year as a result of codeine addiction.
There are more effective and safer options for pain relief available, including both drug and non-drug options. Over-the-counter alternatives, such as ibuprofen and paracetamol, have been found to be more effective at relieving pain than over-the-counter codeine-containing analgesics.
The group believes the rescheduling of codeine is a good opportunity for patients to have a discussion with their general practitioner about their acute or chronic pain and the other pain management strategies available. Early diagnosis and multidisciplinary pain management is the most effective way to treat chronic pain.
UGPA welcomes the rescheduling of codeine and sees this as a positive step forward for improved diagnosis and pain management in Australia.