Australian authorities ban over-the-counter codeine sales
CANBERRA, Dec. 20 (PNA/Xinhua) -- Australians from 2018 will be banned from buying painkillers containing codeine unless they have a signed prescription, in a move designed to crack down on codeine addiction and overdoses.
"After significant consideration and consultation on the effects of medicines containing codeine on people's health and well-being, (we have) decided that products containing codeine will not be able to be sold over the counter in pharmacies, making such products available on prescription only," according to a statement from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) released Tuesday.
The TGA said the number of Australians becoming addicted to over-the-counter codeine medication is too high, and that from Feb. 1, 2018, Australians will require a script to purchase painkillers containing the drug.
"Low-dose codeine-containing medicines are not intended to treat long-term conditions, however many consumers used these products to self-treat chronic pain. This meant that consumers frequently became addicted to codeine."
The TGA said that consumers who become addicted to codeine run the risk of developing "severe" health conditions, while it added that consumers could use alternative over-the-counter medications, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen.
"The TGA also took into consideration that there is little evidence that low-dose codeine medicines are any more effective for pain relief than similar medicines without codeine," the statement said.
"Misuse of over-the-counter codeine products contributes to severe health outcomes, including liver damage, stomach ulceration, respiratory depression and death."
But not everyone is satisfied with the TGA's decision. Pharmacy Guild president George Tambassis said it would also negatively affect the "98 percent" of Australians who use codeine medicines properly.
"The decision has purportedly been made to help stamp out abuse of these medicines by some people but in reality this measure will only encourage vulnerable patients to doctor shop and try to find ways around the system," he told the Australian Associated Press. (PNA/Xinhua)