Codeine comes off the shelves today

From 1 February 2018, over-the-counter (non-prescription) codeine-containing medicines for pain relief, cough and colds will be available by prescription only.

Over-the-counter codeine-based pain relief medicines will be available by prescription only from today.

To obtain painkillers like Panadeine and Nurofen Plus, you will need to visit your GP to get a script.

It’s part of a decision by the Therapeutic Goods Administration to prevent codeine addiction and misuse.

Research has also found they are not suitable for long-term use and can cause dependence.

There are alternatives for effective pain management, and in most cases, codeine is not an appropriate first line of treatment.

Codeine is an opioid pain medication that is converted into morphine once you swallow it.

It is not an effective treatment for chronic pain, and when used over a long period of time or in a self-medicating way, can be harmful.

Research published in the Medical Journal of Australia found the rate of codeine-related deaths in Australia more than doubled between 2000 to 2009.

For acute pain, alternatives include products containing paracetamol or ibuprofen (an anti-inflammatory), or a combination of both.

If you find over-the-counter medicines do not provide adequate relief for your acute pain, it’s time to head to the doctor for further diagnosis and treatment.

If you think that you are unable to manage without codeine and experience some of the side effects of withdrawal, talk to your GP about getting help.

More information for consumers, health professionals and wholesalers can be found here.