Codeine becomes prescription-only medicine in Australia

Codeine becomes prescription-only medicine in Australia

Painkillers containing codeine will require a prescription in Australia from 2018 amid concerns over misuse, BBC reports.


Under current laws, codeine can be obtained in compound form in over-the-counter painkillers and cough medicines.


But Australia's drug regulator believes the risk of addiction is too great.


The decision brings Australia into line with most developed countries in requiring a prescription for the opioid-based medication.


The US, most of Europe, Hong Kong and Japan have stopped the sale of over-the-counter codeine products.


Australia's Therapeutic Drugs Administration (TGA) said consumers often became addicted to the drug.


"Misuse of over-the-counter codeine products contributes to severe health outcomes including liver damage, stomach ulceration, respiratory depression and death," it said in a statement.


The new rules will begin on 1 February 2018.


The TGA recommended patients discuss new treatment plans with their doctors, including whether to use painkilling alternatives such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.