Patients will have to see a doctor to obtain scripts for all codeine-containing medications from February 2018, the TGA has announced.
The long-awaited decision is the result of an extensive consultation that saw pressure from pharmacy lobby groups as well as industry.
“The change in scheduling of products containing codeine from OTC (over-the counter Schedule 2/3) medicines to Schedule 4 prescription medicines will mean that people who wish to use painkiller medicines containing codeine will have to obtain a prescription from their GP or health care provider or use an alternative OTC product such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or a combination of these drugs” the drugs regulatory body said.
It said it had taken into consideration “compelling evidence” of the harms caused by overuse and abuse of OTC codeine products, as well as the fact that several other countries had stopped selling codeine products without a prescription.
In a frequently asked questions section on the re-scheduling decision the TGA advises physicians to discuss with their patients on appropriate treatment options for them.