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Codeine changes – what you need to know

Nick Jones is the new Director of Pharmacy at Peninsula Health.

If you experience chronic pain, migraines or have had a sports injury, chances are you would have taken some form of pain relief containing codeine.

The common pain killer found in products such as Panadeine, Nurofen Plus and various cough and cold medicines, is no longer available over the counter. The decision was made by the Theraputic Goods Administration earlier this year. 

Nick Jones, Director of Pharmacy at Peninsula Health, explains what you need to know. 

“The recent changes mean that all products containing codeine are only available via prescription from your doctor.”

“The changes have been made to help reduce the harm it can cause in the community as a whole.”

Codeine can cause be addictive when taken regularly.

Though codeine may have worked for users in the past, Nick says people should find out whether it really is the best pain killer for them.

“It’s important to consider whether a medicine containing codeine is needed.”

“For acute or short term pain, there may be an alternative over the counter medication which is suitable for you and just as effective.”

“For chronic, or long term types of pain, you should talk to your doctor about the other options available, which may include non-drug treatments such as physiotherapy or massage.”

Nick encourages people who may be prescribed codeine in hospital to talk to their healthcare team. 

“You can talk to your pharmacist or doctor about how long you might need to take the medicines for and whether there are suitable alternatives if you are needing pain killers after you leave hospital.”

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

National Pain Week 23- 29 July

Chronic pain refers to how long the pain lasts rather than how severe it is.

Acute pain is short term pain that heals and goes away.

One in five Australians live with chronic pain including adolescents and children. 

Peninsula Health has a chronic pain service. For more information about this service, please call 5976 9014.