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New codeine changes will cause a headache

CRACKDOWN: From February 1 a prescription will be required to obtain codeine.
CRACKDOWN: From February 1 a prescription will be required to obtain codeine. Daily Telegraph

FROM February 1, a prescription will be required to obtain common pain medications containing codeine - found in products such as Panadeine and Nurofen Plus - in an effort to crack down on addiction to the drug.

But one Gatton pharmacist believes it will do little to stop narcotic abuse and only cause more issues for those reliant on codeine, and those around them, in the region.

The decision was made by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in 2016 to try to stem the high number of consumers who become reliant on the drug, which is only meant to treat short term pain.

In Australia between 2000 and 2013, codeine was a contributory factor in 1437 deaths.

The local pharmacist, who estimated 10 people each day bought medication containing codeine from their chemist alone, said abuse of the drug was a "big issue” for Gatton and its surrounds.

"Our big worry is that people who have been taking these tablets for a long time, they are addicted, which means they need more and more to get any sort of affect,” the pharmacist

said.

"I don't know what people are going to turn to... it's like here was the Aston Martin you were getting, now here's the Barina, that's all we can give you.

"A lot of these people don't recognise that they've got a problem.

"That's why I'm worried about the first of February.”

He predicted the numbers of addicts seeking relief from withdrawals would put added stress on local doctors.

"On top of that we just don't know what's going

to be available after February 1,” he said.

"These people are going to need something... our concern is that the doctors will just stick them on an opiate patch or a stronger pain killer but one that is definitely addictive.

"It's not going to solve the issue.”

Codeine will still be available via a doctor's script but people with ongoing pain should talk to their doctor or healthcare provider to establish the best treatment options to manage their pain before February 1.

Head to the TGA website for more information.

Topics:  codeine gatton lockyer valley pharmacist therapeutic goods administration


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