Have you heard? Codeine based pain relief medication will no longer be available over the counter from 1 February 2018. Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is following the United States and many European nations by requiring a script for codeine based medications.
“We’re one of the last countries in the developed world where codeine is still available without prescription,” said doctor Kin Lee.
The main driver for the TGA’s decision was research showing opiate use has quadrupled in the past decade.
Codeine use should only be for a maximum of three days to treat acute short-term pain. It is not effective for chronic long-term pain. Yet, many Australians are misusing codeine and with alarming numbers of people finding themselves addicted.
Research shows over-the-counter alternatives that use paracetamol and ibuprofen are superior to low-dose codeine for treating pain.
“There is no doubt the ban of over-the-counter codeine will be inconvenient,” said Doctor Kin Lee “but the best way forward for those with ongoing pain is to revisit their pain management.”
Pain medication alone is not effective. Good multidisciplinary pain management addresses other causal factors like emotion, mental health, social relationships and work.
With access to the right education and strategies, most people with chronic pain can regain quality of life without codeine, surgery or invasive treatments.
If the ban on over-the-counter codeine is likely to increase your pain, ask your GP about multidisciplinary pain management.
Further reading on managing pain: Realrelief.org.au Download Pain Relief Toolkit.