13th Nov 2017

Your choices after over-the-counter ban on codeine

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Codeine clampdown limits choice
Olga Galacho

As the war on opioid addiction ramps up, national health authorities have recommended that from next February, medications containing codeine not be sold without a prescription.

Codeine is considered a narcotic and, when taken over an extended period, is addictive, even when used in accordance with a doctor’s instructions.

This month, a consortium of medical and pharmacy groups renewed calls for state health ministers to support the proposal of the authorities.

From 1 February next year , over-the-counter sales of medicines that list codeine as an ingredient, such as Codral and Panadeine Forte, would be banned under the proposal.



The move follows an alarmingly steep rise in overdose deaths related to long-term use of the drug, which metabolises into morphine once inside the body.

Painaustralia Chief Executive Carol Bennett said early this month: “We need to see better responses to pain; over-the-counter codeine is not one of those responses for people experiencing chronic pain.

“Health Ministers have an opportunity to save lives and reduce the growing rate of codeine dependency and harm inAustralia.”

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) also threw its weight behind the move to make codeine a prescription-only drug.

“State governments must not water down codeine safety measures. The evidence is clear. Codeine is dangerous and the current situation is leading to severe negative health outcomes,” RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel said.

The authorities said chronic pain sufferers could rest assured that there were effective alternative analgesics that pharmacists could sell without a prescription.

An article in pharmacist industry magazine AJP.com.au reported that the analgesic Nuromol has been proven in trials to be more effective than codeine-based painkillers, but without the associated dependency issues. It is one of several medications that combines paracetamol and ibuprofen.

There are many off-the-shelf painkillers that have formulations of paracetamol and ibuprofen available at pharmacies.

And the good news is that some studies have found this combination to be more effective at relieving pain than medications containing codeine.

However, growing concerns that liver damage can be caused by the overuse of any medication to treat chronic conditions have sparked an interest in drug-free pain treatments.

Therapies, such as meditation, acupuncture, hypnotherapy and tapping therapy, are increasingly being explored by clinical psychologists.

So don’t fret if you need a quick pain fix and don’t have time to visit a GP for a codeine prescription. Speak to your pharmacist about an alternative that will do the trick. Or consider some of the many drug-free therapies available to alleviate your aches.

What drug-free tips have you used to control your pain? Have they worked? Do you agree that over-the-counter codeine medications should be banned?

Related articles:
Pain management
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No prescription, no painkillers





COMMENTS

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vinradio
13th Nov 2017
10:37am
People will stockpile them while they still can.
SAC
13th Nov 2017
10:57am
That's what I plan to do
Julian
13th Nov 2017
12:47pm
Great idea!
Triss
13th Nov 2017
9:59pm
Make sure they have a long 'use by' date then.
SAC
13th Nov 2017
10:56am
I'm getting heartily sick of losing all my pain meds because some people can't use them responsibly. What happens to those of us who can't use Ibuprofen based medicine? I might as well start eating peppermints.
Jennie
13th Nov 2017
12:01pm
Well said. I am allergic to Ibuprofen. The only medication that works for me is Digesic. I don't need to take this more than a couple of times a month but this pain medication is always on the edge of being banned due to excessive doses (NOT ME) possibly causing a heart problem. I also can't take any opiates, they make me vomit.
And acupuncture?? Tapping therapy?? Good grief. If they work at all much research shows it is by placebo action only. Safe but useless. Why on earth waste money on researching this nonsense any further.
Hypnotherapy has no effect on me either.
(PS, FYI Digesic is on script and contains no codeine).
ray from Bondi
13th Nov 2017
12:37pm
our master know what is best and you had better do as they say or the consequences will be felt :)
Julian
13th Nov 2017
12:38pm
Isn't it always the way...the abusers ruin it for the genuine. I use forte for migraines and its the only one to avoid the intense pain. I'd be lucky to go through pack of 20 in a year but will be concerned if it is banned altogether. Stockpiling sounds like a plan.
SuziJ
13th Nov 2017
6:02pm
Jennie, There's an alternative to Digesic, and it's called Capadex. I've had both and have found that they're as good as each other, but Capadex is so much cheaper.

I also cannot use anything with Codeine in it, this includes Morphine, Pethidine, etc. My best pain relief in this category is Fentanyl.
Anonymous
16th Nov 2017
12:53pm
As always, responsible people are made to suffer because of a minority of stupid, irresponsible people.
tisme
13th Nov 2017
11:38am
how long will it take to ban ibuprofen it has been seen to be bad for the liver acupuncture tens treatments are great but only last a very short time
Jennie
13th Nov 2017
12:02pm
All NSAIDS are bad for the gut including aspirin. Don't start me on steroids!!
Julian
13th Nov 2017
12:45pm
All NSAIDs are bad for you in that they inhibit synthesis of a process which aids renal perfusion. They are therefore despised by renal physicians and will generally suggest you look to alternatives or put up with the pain. The banning of a particular COX2 inhibitor around 2004 triggered a need to cut down on certain grugs of the same class..however drugs with the same action continue to be available without scripts. If your kidneys don't filter water then you get retention and consequently an increase in BP. Morbidity rises with risk and this is why there was a perceived increased risk of cardiac events.
Nan Norma
13th Nov 2017
12:15pm
Its the codeine cough medicine I need sometimes. Its the only thing that works. Even a specialist approved of it. I did not over use it. It always expired before I ever got to finishing it. No other cough medicines work for me.
Rosret
13th Nov 2017
12:30pm
"Therapies, such as meditation, acupuncture, hypnotherapy and tapping therapy, are increasingly being explored by clinical psychologists."
There is just incorrect premise here. - people want to continue to live in pain.
Did it occur to the medical profession that this was a painless exit and some might want to be in control of end of days. None of those therapies will stop significant pain and loss of mobility.
This isn't about the sick over prescribing themselves its about the drug dealers using it to make street drugs.
ray from Bondi
13th Nov 2017
12:38pm
here here
KSS
13th Nov 2017
1:16pm
I agree Rosret this is as a result of the few taking from the many. I read somewhere there have been 156 deaths linked to codeine abuse over the last 10 years. Why are we not restricting motor vehicles given twice that number and more die as a result of improper use of them every year?

The pharmacists came up with a compromise of using realtime nationwide recording at point of sale. This would have meant that people could still get their codeine medication but it would be recorded so it would prevent you from being able to go to the chemist round the corner and get another lot. The GPs are fighting that one.

I can just see my local GP come February. If they consider themselves overworked now just wait; with every person with a headache or cough lining up for a prescription for what they can get OTC now, getting an appointment will have to be made months in advance or be prepared to wait hours longer in a queue at a bulk billing medical centre.
Alky
13th Nov 2017
1:10pm
It looks like I'm screwed then. I'm allergic to paracetamol, and ibuprofen causes stomach ulcers and heart problems - and I already take medication for elevated blood pressure. I've taken Tramadol (sparingly) in the past and now they say that it causes other nasty problems

Maybe my old man was right - when I was a kid and I'd hurt my hand, he'd say he's stomp on my foot and then I wouldn't worry about the injured hand
Rosret
13th Nov 2017
7:19pm
You can still go to the doctor for a script. Might be a good idea to stock up now.
Sceptic
13th Nov 2017
1:24pm
Since when was Panadeine forte anything but a prescription medication?
Raphael
13th Nov 2017
2:36pm
Right - let’s spend an hour at the GP for a miserable packet of painkillers
More money in their pockets than
Rosret
13th Nov 2017
7:22pm
The doctors who aren't around on the weekend or late at night when you are in significant pain with a toothache or some other painful issue.
Pansy
13th Nov 2017
11:14pm
The nanny state strikes again. The majority suffer because of the problems of a minority. About 100 people die of overdose annually compared to the hundreds of thousands of people who take medication with codeine. Over 300 people die each year from car accidents in NSW alone. Will they ban the car next?
Anonymous
16th Nov 2017
12:58pm
Well said!
musicveg
14th Nov 2017
12:45am
Well that will give the drug dealers time to stock up, it will sell for a lot more on the black market after they ban it from over the counter sales. But I agree that it should not be available over the counter, too easy to abuse, a doctor will give advice of what you can use then go to the pharmacy and talk to a chemist who knows even more about your alternatives. I personally don't use any pharmies too many side effects like long term damage to liver etc.
Von
14th Nov 2017
11:18am
I have always been allergic to codeine as well as other painkillers. I recently had two knee replacements and had to cope without the strong painkillers most people are given. People will cope or get a prescription if necessary.
Anne Ozzie
14th Nov 2017
12:14pm
There is a group of asthma sufferers including me who are allergic to all NSAIDs like asprin, cartier, ibuprofen, voltaren, etc, etc. These drugs bring on an asthma attack. What are we supposed to do when paracetamol is not enough?
musicveg
14th Nov 2017
12:53pm
Find out what is causing your asthma or what makes it worse ie; any toxins from cleaning products or perfumes etc. Do some research, also eat a lot of fresh organic fruit and veg for antioxidants.
Anonymous
16th Nov 2017
12:59pm
Anne, do you mean "Cartia"?
Big D
14th Nov 2017
6:14pm
Happy Chat articles such as this offend me greatly. I suspect the author has no experience with chronic pain and I’m baffled by the apparent ignorance about the adverse effects of NCAIDS. No one can handle them long term and they rip the stomach out of many individuals. Aspirin-caused ulcer almost killed my wife.
musicveg
14th Nov 2017
6:29pm
Pretty much all medication upsets your gut bacteria too.
George
14th Nov 2017
9:49pm
Just a stupid nanny state idea strongly supported by GPs who stand to make thousands more with such an approach. It is also stupid to say that NSAIDS with their side effects are equally effective when they do not calm the nerves which transmit pain and which are helped by codeine.

It would also be far simpler to have an Online Register updated and used by Pharmacists to catch any over-use and refer those people on to doctors.
Raphael
14th Nov 2017
9:57pm
It's Ok - I have my marijuana plant out back
Anonymous
16th Nov 2017
1:04pm
So you admit to having an illegal drug, thereby condoning - indeed, publicly parading - illegality? What a model citizen you are... Inform the police YLC.

However...

Genetically modified marijuana (with the tetrahydrocannibinol [THC] removed) might be OK. But smoking it is worse than smoking tobacco, because the tar content is much higher
musicveg
16th Nov 2017
1:22pm
Not if he lives in S.A. The are other ways to take in cannabis that are proven to be very effective overseas. The use of CBD oil is transforming lives of especially children who have seizures. It is also a very effective pain relief for many.
ex PS
15th Nov 2017
11:19am
Effectively a $20.00 packet of common pain relief drugs will cost $80.00 once you add the doctors visit into the mix. Don't kid yourself that you are bulk billed so it will cost nothing, the government will use your taxes to pay the doctor.
This is just another attempt by the medical profession to grab more money. It would not be hard for pharmacies to maintain a register for such drugs and control the over use in that way. But that would not make any extra money would it?
Old Geezer
15th Nov 2017
12:00pm
You are far better off not taking any of this stuff anyway so the sooner they ban it the better. Try some good food, fresh air and sleep as that will work so much better for you.
Anonymous
16th Nov 2017
1:05pm
True, but only if you're not already ill. Your solution will not work for many conditions. But I understand your point: All medications are really toxins, to be avoided IF POSSIBLE.

16th Nov 2017
12:49pm
Years ago I read an article in "Scientific American" which demonstrated that if taken for genuine reasons - relief of actual physical pain - then the level of addiction would be lessed. Put another way, those who take opioids for the effect will become addicted quickly.

Another analgesic that needs to be regulated is Panadol: it can damage the liver. And Aspirin is hell on the kidneys.


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