Cost of codeine has shot up since becoming prescription-only

The cost of codeine has doubled, hurting the hip pockets of chronic pain sufferers.

Cost of codeine has shot up since becoming prescription-only

The cost of medicines containing codeine has almost doubled since becoming a prescription-only drug on 1 February 2018.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has called on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to investigate the increase.

Patient advocates are worried that the price hike will hurt the one in five Australians already suffering from chronic pain. Painaustralia Chief Executive Carol Bennett says the increase is cruel and unjustified.

“People with chronic pain already face enormous pressures. They are often unable to work full time, have numerous expenses due to medical appointments and treatments, and are not in a position to absorb any additional costs,” said Ms Bennett.

“We are extremely dismayed to hear of alleged increases in the price of codeine-containing products and we join Minister for Health Greg Hunt in his condemnation of this practice.

“At a time when codeine is less available, industry and pharmacists are reportedly putting the price up. If true, this is unacceptable from government-supported health providers.”

Chronic pain is the leading cause of forced retirement, and can create mental health issues as well as damage to emotional wellbeing and overall quality of life.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration’s decision to make codeine prescription-only was based on recommendations from pharmacy officers concerned about dependence issues and  overdoses.

“Australians who experience ongoing pain are often struggling to keep working and contributing to their families and communities,” said Ms Bennett.

“It’s unfair to suddenly make them pay more for their medications.”

Do you rely on codeine-containing medicines to get through the day? Have you noticed a cost increase? Or did you stock up prior to the ban?

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    COMMENTS

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    tisme
    22nd Feb 2018
    11:53am
    its not on the pbs is what I was told. but that doesn't make sense. its just profiteering.
    Rosret
    22nd Feb 2018
    12:25pm
    Let's not forget the $80 GP bill if you go to a fee charging doctor who is then going to prescribe the generic junk.
    Perhaps we need to head for the back streets and find a dealer!!!
    Young Simmo
    22nd Feb 2018
    1:18pm
    OK let's get this right, putting more Meds on script only, has given our Doctors a nice little jump in their income. The Chemists will only get a small jump, so up the prices so they can keep up with the Doctors. If I have it wrong, please advise me.
    senior
    22nd Feb 2018
    8:14pm
    that is a worry.
    FrankC
    23rd Feb 2018
    1:19pm
    I think you've hit it on the head there Simmo.
    ex PS
    25th Feb 2018
    4:00pm
    Yes, that is about what it amounts to.
    Thoughtful
    22nd Feb 2018
    1:26pm
    It is well documented that the amount of codeine in previous OTC medicines is probably of little value for pain - but a serious problem for addiction. Then, the patient actually "needs" the codeine to prevent the pain. This is not the fault of the patient. Whilst the government believe they are helping this problem, by rescheduling codeine, they have to provide viable alternative treatment options. Doctors and pharmacists are not paid for rehab. And yes there should be an increase in price if the doctor and pharmacist now need to counsel on it's use. Who is paying for their time? And who is helping the vast number of people who do not realise they are, in fact, addicted?
    KSS
    22nd Feb 2018
    1:33pm
    Of little value for some people with CHRONIC pain. Acute pain was never the issue!
    As for the abuse of OTC medications the pharmacists put forward a proposal for real time logging of all sales of OTC medications containing codeine. This, if implemented, would have effectively put an end to pill shoppers by identifying people who were clearly buying more medications than could be reasonably expected and raised the alarm. Those people could then have been picked up and offered appropriate treatment. It would also have meant that people using the same products for legitimate reasons could have continued to do so. It was the GPs who refused the pharmacists' option and put pressure on the Government to reject it over what the GPs see as a turf grab by pharmacists.
    AutumnOz
    22nd Feb 2018
    1:33pm
    Many people cannot take high doses of codeine but one panadeine plus one panadol does give them a lot of relief from pain.
    People are not mass produced so what suits one person is too strong a dose for another and so it goes on. People only taking two panadeine tablets per day as directed by their doctor are not addicted merely following orders.
    All of this hoo ha because of a gov't command to take it off the shelves of the chemist shop is because maybe 104 or 140 people used codeine and ended up dead.
    KSS
    22nd Feb 2018
    1:37pm
    Right AutumnOz, meanwhile more than 5000 people die each year from abuse of doctor prescribed opiate medications!
    Thoughtful
    22nd Feb 2018
    1:52pm
    KSS Is back pain acute or chronic? Does acute pain become chronic with codeine taken for more than 4 days? But I agree - big pharma has a lot to answer for.
    AutumnOz
    22nd Feb 2018
    1:55pm
    I'm not up to speed with the numbers who die either accidentally or intentionally from opiate medications so cannot comment sensibly on that.
    Rosret
    22nd Feb 2018
    8:07pm
    Let's see the increase in presentations to emergency when there is no pain relief in out of doctor hours.
    Of course codeine works or no one would by it.
    KSS
    22nd Feb 2018
    1:26pm
    Why is this news? Of course prices were going to go up with only two manufacturers left standing after codeine removal from chemist shelves. First there are fewer manufacturers since most decided to withdraw their product completely rather than wait for the GP to prescribe their brand over another. Less competition = higher wholesale prices. Then the Pharmacists can charge a dispensing fee as they do on all prescribed medications they fill plus other fees and charges they can add: see here https://www.guild.org.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/6100/6cpa-final-24-may-201558b59133c06d6d6b9691ff000026bd16.pdf

    And that does not include the fee to see a GP (excluding bulk billing) or even a repeat prescription charge if you don't actually have to see the GP each time.

    So predictable!
    Rae
    22nd Feb 2018
    2:13pm
    Yep. Real Corporate State type stuff hey!
    AutumnOz
    22nd Feb 2018
    1:27pm
    For those of us who are not abusing the low dosage codeine tablets for a chronic condition any increase is an insult as is having to pay for the doctor's appointment to collect a prescription for the tablets.
    As it was a government command that people be deprived of a beneficial drug both
    Panadeine and the generics should have been put on the pharmaceutical benefits before the command came into effect.
    The generic brands have a higher dosage of codeine than Panadeine and are not suitable for many people which pushes those people into a higher cost bracket for pain relief.
    KSS
    22nd Feb 2018
    1:35pm
    Generic medicines must have the same active ingredient and the same amount of it as the 'branded' product.
    AutumnOz
    22nd Feb 2018
    1:49pm
    The chemist's own codeine and paracetamol contains 10mg of codeine against the 8mg in panadeine.
    For anyone with a sensitivity to codeine that is too much if they take the recommended two tablets three times a day.
    Rosret
    22nd Feb 2018
    8:10pm
    AutumnOZ I am sensitive to codeine so I don't take any. If your pain is severe the GP does have other options for you.
    AutumnOz
    23rd Feb 2018
    8:36am
    Rosret, I am not doing very well at the mement, I was taking one panadeine and one ibuprofen and it was doing a very good job, the dose of codeine in the panadeine suited me well but the 10mg in the generics was too much and made me sick. It is weird.
    I'm seeing my doctor shortly and we'll sort something out - it is a nuisance though as it took ages to get the medication right so it will be another set of trial and error.
    I should have stock piled the panadeine but it disappeared from the shelves so quickly few people had a chance to do so.

    22nd Feb 2018
    1:39pm
    Gouging Big Pharma bastards. This could happen only under a Lieberal government. Put them on the PBS.
    Puglet
    22nd Feb 2018
    1:43pm
    According to my local pharmacy the quanity of codeine containing drugs has not decreased. The major difference is that users have to consult a GP. This means that taxpayers through Medicare are now paying for the codeine. GPs are also giving repeat prescriptions so people can use these repeats to stock pile drugs. What a debacle.
    Thoughtful
    22nd Feb 2018
    2:04pm
    Totally agree.
    AutumnOz
    22nd Feb 2018
    6:46pm
    Puglet,
    it is obvious you do not have any chronic conditions if you did you would know how repeat prescriptions work.

    I get repeat prescriptions on my asthma medication and also on my chemo stuff, I'll also get repeat prescriptions when I ask my doctor for a script for panadeine.

    This doesn't mean I am stock piling drugs it only means that I do not have to go to the doctor if my medication runs out before my next scheduled visit, there are dates and times on repeat prescriptions telling patients not to fill them before such and such a date.
    Mungoette
    22nd Feb 2018
    4:04pm
    I not a big user but I used to buy my over-the-counter paracetamol plus codeine for a tad over $14 but my pharmacy ran out of stock roughly 6 weeks before the changes ( first time ever?) and now charge $28 for same with the prescription. Not covered by my pensioner concession/ health care card. looks like I have to go up to stronger pain killers sooner than I otherwise would. ( degenerative condition). Medically qualified government?
    AutumnOz
    22nd Feb 2018
    6:51pm
    I suspect the pharmaceutical company stopped supplying the pharmacy as soon as they heard our government's plans.

    Have a chat with your doctor because panadeine forte is on the pbs and you can get it for the $6.20 or whatever the cost is now. The only problem is that it is 30mg codeine plus paracetamol tablet, rather than the 8mg plus paracetamol you were buying over the counter, and you would need to cut it down to the dosage you normally have.
    senior
    22nd Feb 2018
    7:18pm
    Thanks AutumnOz, that is what I thought too. I think I may have to get a script for panadeine forte, even tho it is too strong for me and at night, cut one in half and take that which equals two panadeine. In the afternoon when I need to take one panadeine, I could still do that but it would cut down the cost. It is weird though. I have always tried to take the lowest dose of pain killers that I can. This situation forces me to get a script for a stronger pill and I sort of resent that....even if I can cut them up. It may mean many people like me with everyday pain, go to panadeine forte instead of ordinary panadol due to the price rise. The two chemists blamed the company but I wondered at the time. chemist wearhouse was $11 and another was $12. thanks for the suggestions.
    AutumnOz
    23rd Feb 2018
    8:38am
    Try panadol in the afternoon as it may be enough of a top up to get you through to the evening dose of panadeine forte.
    senior
    22nd Feb 2018
    6:25pm
    I am 60 and have arthritis and a spine that the GP describes as "stuffed". I can manage on panadol and 3 panadiene each day. There is no trouble getting the script. My doctor wrote a script for 40 pills x 3 repeats. I dont think 40 packs are even being made now. It appears that some companies making a generic panadiene stopped making it as soon as the script rule came in. Then I had to go to 4 shops to get one pack of 24. I used to get 40 pills for about $6.50 and now that cost me $11 and I only get 24 for that. I am not working but not on a pension of any kind. Where I could get 40 pills for $6.50 I now can get 48, (2 x 24 packs) for $22.00...($11 a pack of 24) ..so I am paying nearly FOUR times the price. The chemists have told me that the manufacturer has put up the price because they now have a monopoloy on the product. This seems wrong. I am one of many who have genuine pain, that panadol is not sufficient to deal with. I don't take more than the doctor's recommendation. What happens to people in my situation who are not abusing the codine factor, who have genuine pain and are doing the right thing and getting a script? It is VERY wrong and very unfair. If someone can come up with a petition about this problem, I will sign it. I am just not sure who the petition should be addressed to or I would start it. I know some people abuse the drug so maybe a script is good, but someone explain the disgusting price hike to me please? ...and shall we start a petition and begin circulating it...?
    AutumnOz
    22nd Feb 2018
    6:55pm
    That is disgraceful senior, it sounds as if our government is more in collusion with the drug companies rather than taking care of the people of this country.
    What happens to those not abusing codeine is that we now suffer pain because a few people have been abusing the drug.
    A petition is an excellent idea. Good thinking.
    Funny face
    22nd Feb 2018
    7:45pm
    I agree with the man who said about trying to get the N.D.I.S to help you. My daughter has M.S and Charcot, has had since she was 19 - she's now 46. We need help! I'm doing all I can but I'm practically in a wheelchair myself ( don't get me sidetracked about the codeine!!!!!!!!). We filled in the papers, her doctor did his bit and commented on how bad she was. We were ' rejected' by the N.D.I.S because - ' wait for it'. . She can communicate!!!!!! That is our total ' answer' from them. She can communicate! Some help!!!!!!
    Funny face
    22nd Feb 2018
    7:45pm
    I agree with the man who said about trying to get the N.D.I.S to help you. My daughter has M.S and Charcot, has had since she was 19 - she's now 46. We need help! I'm doing all I can but I'm practically in a wheelchair myself ( don't get me sidetracked about the codeine!!!!!!!!). We filled in the papers, her doctor did his bit and commented on how bad she was. We were ' rejected' by the N.D.I.S because - ' wait for it'. . She can communicate!!!!!! That is our total ' answer' from them. She can communicate! Some help!!!!!!
    senior
    22nd Feb 2018
    7:58pm
    sounds very very unfair. Sorry to hear this.
    Rosret
    22nd Feb 2018
    8:13pm
    Try again and if you don't get satisfaction talk to your local member of Parliament. Video your daughter's mobility issues.
    AutumnOz
    23rd Feb 2018
    8:44am
    Sorry to hear about your troubles funny face.
    You certainly do need to apply again and also get your federal MP onside to help with this issue.
    The N.D.I.S. seems to be knocking back those who really need the help and giving it to those who could cope at home with a little help. Maybe it is something to do with the lack of funding but if so that needs to be investigated, reported on and fixed as soon as possible.
    Anonymous
    25th Feb 2018
    4:05pm
    Call your Federal Member. I lodged a complaint with the Federal Member about the way my daughter and disabled grandson were being treated and suddenly there is help available everywhere - benefits my daughter and I had no idea might ever be offered. The Member instructed my daughter to email her Federal Member immediately every time she has a problem. Resolutions come impressively fast. Prior to my complaint, she had made application after application and appeal after appeal and got nowhere.
    senior
    22nd Feb 2018
    8:22pm
    To be honest, if I could not find a doctor who bulk billed, I would just stop going as it is too expensive to see one if you are not working. I know this line of comment isnt meant to be about bulk billing but it certainly adds to the expensive if people cannot bulk bill.
    Eddy
    23rd Feb 2018
    3:35pm
    I wonder is the part of the price increase due to the manufacturers/suppliers expecting a reduced rate of sales therefore the unit cost has to go up to compensate for the reduced sales volume.
    Eddy
    23rd Feb 2018
    3:40pm
    ps. I am not a codeine user but I would be in dire straits if Panadol Osteo was no longer available over-the-counter.
    senior
    23rd Feb 2018
    5:22pm
    yes, you might be right Eddy. I am not that far into sales and working that sort of stuff out but could be because of feared reduced sale volume. ....or greed. lol. not sure which....hahaha. Panadol Osteo is supposed to be quite good but for some unknown reason it upsets my tummy and makes me sick so I cant take it...but I am glad you are able to. cheers.

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    23rd Feb 2018
    7:09pm
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    According to my local pharmacy the quanity of codeine containing drugs has not decreased.
    ex PS
    25th Feb 2018
    4:07pm
    The government caused this problem by bowing to the Doctors Union, now it has to lessen the effect by subsidizing the cost of this medication. They have encouraged profiteering by supporting this stupid control of a mostly appropriately used medication.
    Another example of the Nanny State supporting big business.
    senior
    25th Feb 2018
    8:08pm
    Yes, that would explain it. and I love your dog face!
    ex PS
    26th Feb 2018
    8:43am
    What dog face?
    senior
    26th Feb 2018
    12:31pm
    with your comment there is a gorgeous dog head on a uniform of some kind. Probably you fb pic you use. A scottie dog I think. Really cute.
    Young Simmo
    26th Feb 2018
    4:35pm
    Senior look again, that's not a dog face, that's an Aust Labor Party leader, and the inside is also B L A N,,,,,,,,,,K.
    ex PS
    26th Feb 2018
    5:22pm
    Sorry senior, I was being flippant, the head belongs to a West Highland Terrier and is very close to what my best mate Mac looks like. Mac was a retirement present from my wife that she gave me six years ago. The best present I have ever received.
    Edmund
    2nd Apr 2018
    2:44pm
    I have had a chronically bad back (multiple disc prolapses) for over 15 years. For about 10 years my GP had me on 8 Panadeine Forte a day (yes you read that right). I became quite concerned about the long term implications, plus a feeling that half the reason for taking them was to avoid withdrawal from NOT taking them!

    After I discussed my concerns with the GP he recommended that I move on to stronger opiates such as oxycodone........not my preferred route!

    So I looked at other options, saw a neurosurgeon (who talked me out of surgery), and a pain specialist. The pain specialist tried a few things which didn't work and eventually put me on to a new synthetic opiate called patentadol (brand name Palexia). This stuff is brilliant in that it is non-addictive. You can stop taking it with only minimal withdrawal symptoms. So that suits me in that I can take something that deals with the pain when I need it and don't have to take it for its own sake. However, it is strong (even in low doses) so I don't like to take it unless I really need it. There are other days when a couple of regular Panadeine or Nurofen+ were perfect.

    So I did the right thing last week and asked the GP for a prescription for each of those (I like to mix things up so I'm not taking the same thing all the time). Can I find a pharmacy with either of those in stock? Nope. So I'm forced to take stronger drugs for relatively minor pain. And for context, 'minor' pain for me is the feeling that someone has stuck a knife in your back. If I can get out of bed it's a good day.

    And before the haters step in, I am in shape, fit, I practise Tai Chi, swim, cycle etc etc., but all with a background of constant pain, if you haven't experienced that then you can't comment!
    AutumnOz
    2nd Apr 2018
    4:01pm
    Edmund I have rheumatoid arthritis and a twisted spine so the pain can be difficult at times. As well as the rheumatoid medication I also need some pain relief which was one panadeine plus one nurofen twice a day and find they are a great help with pain.
    My local pharmacy now has to order in panadeine to fill a script whereas they used to stock them when they were available over the counter. Also the pharmacy has a chemist's own brand ibuprofen which is virtually the same as nurofen without the sweet covering on the tablet. Costs half as much as nurafen as well.
    Edmund
    2nd Apr 2018
    6:29pm
    Thanks Autumn,

    seems to me this wasn't really thought through very well.
    senior
    3rd Apr 2018
    12:34pm
    Well months later, I am going to chemists and they are saying, no, we dont have any panadeine or equivalents, even at dearer prices. The stock just isnt coming. I think this is really wrong. If a doctor prescribes something for a patient and you have a script, it is ridiculous for the chemists to just be able to say, no we dont have any stock. They dont say, we will get it in for you for tomorrow, for example, they just cant get it. This seems wrong to me. If I need malaria tablets to travel to another country, and have a script, I dont expect the chemist just to be able to say, no we dont have them and cant get them in. The doc and I thought I was then forced to get panadeine forte, even though I dont want it or need it and to cut it in half, just so that the price is affordable and because the chemists have it. Another cheap alterntive the doc told me is to get a script for just codine....and cut it up if too high a dose and take panadol with it. The only thing is, it is, I hear fairly small to cut up. A tiny pill. Maybe a pill cutter might do it.
    Edmund
    3rd Apr 2018
    12:48pm
    It's just ridiculous. I actually found a pharmacy this morning that had some - $27 for a product that used to cost me $8.95! And that's after paying a GP for a script. I'll be going down the Panadeine Forte route like yourself, I used to get 240 of those for $35.

    I believe the ACCC are looking into the cost issue but that won't help with supply. I suggest we all write to Minister Hunt!
    AutumnOz
    3rd Apr 2018
    12:56pm
    Senior, even cut in half panadeine forte may be too strong. There is a tablet similar to panadeine called panamax which is also on script, I wasn't able to get the panadeine script filled last time I was in town but the pharmacist told me about panamax and said it was still the same 8mg of codeine as panadeine.
    I'll be in town tomorrow and should be able to pick it up at the pharmacy and I'll let you know about the cost.

    Edmund it is ridiculous to have to pay $27 for the panadeine. I think we all probably need to mention this rip off to our local member of parliament as well.
    AutumnOz
    4th Apr 2018
    1:57pm
    The panamax was at the pharmacy, it is not on the PBS and I don't know exactly how much it cost as I had a couple of other items as well however, it was no where near $27for the panamax which comes in a pack of 40 tablets and there is no repeat on the script.
    It is OK for someone only taking two tablets per day but if the recommended dose of two every six hours is followed it would mean a lot of wasted time at the doctors every week to pick up script.
    This ban by the gov't was not thought through to the obvious conclusion that doctors, many of whom in rural areas are overworked, will now have to put in more hours per week just writing prescriptions for panadeine tablets.
    AutumnOz
    6th Apr 2018
    4:11pm
    I have misled you it is actually called Panamax Co. 8mg of codeine and 500mg paracetamol.
    I've tried them myself and they are the same as panadeine.
    senior
    6th Apr 2018
    2:27pm
    could be wrong, but I believe Panamax is exactly the same as panadol. No codine factor. There is Panamax Co. which has codine in it. Not wanting to correct anyone, just making sure we are all talking about the same product. Thanks to those of you trying to help me and others. I appreciate it. ...and yes Panadeine forte can still be too strong in some cases, even cut in half. I am taking a half a one at bed time only for the pain. that does mean tho that I have to still find a script and some normal panadeine (at a high price) to take the one I need in the afternoon to be able to lay down for an hour. Yes whole thing is messy. I might check out the codine tabs on their own. The chemist said it is much cheaper and the way to go. Then a person can just add panadol with it. only one script needed and much cheaper. will need a pill cutter as the codine is very tiny I am told.
    senior
    6th Apr 2018
    2:31pm
    I am also hearing about the pensioners who cannot afford to get their MRI's done when ordered, as the rebate is so small. Apparently, this rebate hasnt gone up for years and yet the MRI charges have....sorry, this is another topic...but concerned for pensioners or those older people on no pensions but not working....


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