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?