From today (Thursday, February 1) codeine-based pain medication will no longer be available over the counter at pharmacies and shops.
Customers will now have to get a prescription from their doctor under the controversial changes introduced by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt stands by the changes, insisting up to 100 lives a year can be saved when codeine is taken off store shelves.
But many local pharmacists have spoken out against the changes including Peter Feros who owns a number of pharmacies in the region. They predict over-crowded GP waiting rooms and increased pressure on hospital outpatient departments.
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Since 2016, about 70 per cent of NSW pharmacies have voluntarily introduced a real-time recording and monitoring system called MedsASSIST to help them identify patients who are at risk of codeine dependence.
Mr Feros says the NSW Government should make MedsASSIST mandatory, rather than regulating that codeine medication only be available with a doctor’s prescription, with no real-time recording of the supply, and no real-time monitoring or counselling available.
He outlined his own experience of severe pain to help background the issue.
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