Over-the-counter painkillers could soon be available by prescription-only after reports of misuse, addiction and death have been attributed to the drugs.
An Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling held by the Therapeutic Goods Administration in July will determine whether common 'Schedule 3' painkillers such as Nurofen Plus and Panadeine will be classified as 'Schedule 4' drugs.
If the proposal goes forward, about 150 codeine medicines may become unavailable to Australians and require a prescription from a doctor.
Although most Australians follow instructions and use painkillers in recommended amounts, doctors say an increasing number of people are over-medicating and causing themselves harm. Codeine-ibuprofen medicines such as Nurofen Plus, can cause severe gastrointestinal damage and internal bleeding if misused. In severe cases, they can also cause death.
Some codeine addicts have reportedly been known to visit multiple pharmacies in order to avoid restrictions, in place since 2010, that are designed to restrict purchases of more than five days' supply of the drug at one time.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and the Pharmacy Guild Australia disagree with the proposal. They say that the government should do more to monitor the sale of the drugs in order to detect people abusing them. Pharmacy Guild Australia’s Victorian president, Anthony Tassone said that the proposal won’t solve any problems, rather it “just shifts the problem” onto doctors.
Medicines affected by the change would be painkillers used to cure common pain such as headaches, toothaches and period pain. Painkillers that may be included are, Codral Original Cold and Flu Tablets, Aspalgin Soluble tablets and Mersyndol Tablets.
Read more at theage.com.
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