From 1 February 2018 Australians will only be able to purchase codeine with a prescription. The move is aimed at to protect Australians from the risks of codeine and help build more effective pain management strategies for individuals.
The misuse of codeine, while a significant risk to individuals, also places a significant burden on our national health system. In a 2017 review, 5 years worth of hospital admissions to an Australian public hospital showed that 99 people had been hospitalised due to codeine misuse.
These admissions cost the local health system over $1 million with the average cost of a single codeine related hospital admission exceeding $10,000.
Some individuals were reported as taking over six times the recommended daily limit to help with a range of pain related conditions. The most common cases of codeine misuse amongst those admitted to hospital were related to the management of musculoskeletal pain (26.7%) and headache/migraine symptoms (13.3%).
The changes to codeine scheduling represent an opportunity for health practitioners to discuss more effective management of chronic pain.
More information is available online about the coming changes to the availability of codeine.