National Rural Health Alliance explains new codeine regulations

Michael Kent
Michael Kent

New restrictions on the purchase of products containing codeine will come into effect on February 1, changing the availability of a number of products. 

With medications that previously have been available for ‘off the shelf’ purchase now only be accessible through a doctors prescription, there is bound to be some significant changes to the health industry.

Priceline pharmacist Michael Kent believes the change will have a significant impact on the local health system. 

“It’s going to have a huge impact on people who need acute pain relief and are used to being able to come in and buy what’s a reasonably effective product whenever they need it,” he said. 

“The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has created this system to restrict the use of these products to prescription only use. 

“The system falls down where people can just go to 10 different doctors in a day and get prescriptions.

“There’s no recording, there’s no linking of the use of the medication. Yes there is an abuse of prescription opioids today, so by making it prescription only makes it a little bit more difficult, but for people who are dedicated to obtaining and abusing opioids it’ll still happen. It’s hard enough now to see a doctor in a small town. 

“You’d be lucky to get a doctor appointment in 7-14 days at any practice in a rural area, and if you have pain today you can’t wait 14 days.”

The move to restrict the availability of medications containing codeine was unanimously agreed on by the TGA and is in line with changes introduced in many other parts of the world to reduce rates of opiate addiction and overdose. But, Michael Kent doesn’t believe it will solve the problem.

“The only effective way to control opioid use it to have a national link, similar to the one used for pseudoephedrine use,” he said.

“The pharmacy profession has proposed that to the TGA. Rather than make it impossible to access the medication, it provides us with a live link, so when someone walks in gets some then walks around the corner to get more, we would instantly know.

“What they are proposing has no link, so if they are really trying to target those people, it’s going to fail.”

This story New regulations for codeine purchase: what does it mean for you? first appeared on Great Lakes Advocate.