Codeine soon no longer over-the-counter

ANYONE who routinely uses codeine should seek medical advice from their doctors before over-the-counter-sales of the pain killing drug stop on February 1.

All codeine based products, including Panadeine, Mersyndol and Nurofen Plus, are being banned from sale without prescription.

It comes after a ruling by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

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AMA Queensland Vice President Dr Jim Finn, an addiction medicine specialist, said it was now time for people with chronic, painful conditions to see alternative treatments.

"Although many people regularly take codeine combination painkillers, these products may seriously damage the liver, kidney and stomach if taken in large doses," Dr Finn said.

"Codeine, like other opioid drugs, can also be highly addictive for some patients.


"These factors explain why codeine is being linked to a growing number of deaths in Australia."

Dr Finn said doctors were aware that some patients were worried about managing their pain without codeine.

"Patients who feel dependent on codeine should see a GP as soon as possible to discuss their long-term treatment," he said.

"It may be in the patient's best interest to gradually reduce their codeine use under supervision.

"Or they may have underlying health problems that need to be investigated and for which a long-term prescription painkiller may be the best option."

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