CODEINE MEDICINES: Pharmacist Campbell Gradon with a few of the products which could possibly require a prescription from 2016. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
CODEINE MEDICINES: Pharmacist Campbell Gradon with a few of the products which could possibly require a prescription from 2016. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott

Codein painkillers could soon be prescription only

BUYING flu tablets and painkillers containing codeine could become a lot harder for Bundaberg consumers.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), which acts as the Federal Government's medicines regulator, is considering whether to reclassify drugs such as Nurofen Plus or Panadeine Extra so it would require a prescription from a doctor.

The TGA made an interim recommendation to make codeine-based drugs prescription-only to combat risk of harm, addiction or overdose and other serious health risks.

A final decision will be made in November, with a view to moving to prescriptions by June 1, 2016 at the earliest.

However, Crofton Street Pharmacy owner Campbell Gradon said the plan would impact GP clinics and increase health costs, without dealing with the problem.

"I don't disagree that there is risk of abuse and people misuse them," he said.

"However, I disagree that you can regulate your way through it as opposed to providing pharmacists with more tools to deal with the situation.

"For example with pseudoephedrine, there is a real-time monitoring program called project stop."

Mr Gradon said the move would greatly inconvenience the large proportion of consumers who use codeine responsibly.

"It would be like saying from tomorrow you need to get a prescription for alcohol because there are alcoholics," he said.

"Every time they go to a doctor they would have a Medicare claim from a doctor because it would be a consultation.

"Potentially, and although unlikely, people may seek alternative sources for products either legally or illegally."

But AMA vice president Dr Stephen Parnis told ABC that there were hidden risks to codeine to consider.

"The body converts it to morphine and in fact a proportion of the population can convert it so quickly that they can suffer serious harm as a result," he said.

"That is the key point driving the TGA decision.

"Codeine is a narcotic and is in fact the only one that doesn't require a prescription."



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