From early 2018, nipping down to the chemist to sort out that sniffle or headache is going to be a lot harder with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) ruling meds containing codeine will require a trip to the doctor first.
The medical regulator said its decision - which brings Australia in line with the US, Hong Kong, majority of Europe, the United Arab Emirates and Japan - is based on evidence that people are self-harming with codeine medicines either by overuse or abuse.
“Low-dose codeine-containing medicines are not intended to treat long-term conditions, however public consultation indicated that many consumers used these products to self-treat chronic pain. This meant that consumers frequently became addicted to codeine," a TGA statement said.
"There is little evidence that low-dose codeine medicines are any more effective for pain relief or cough than similar medicines without codeine."
About 25 out-the-counter medicines are expected to be affected such as Nurofen Plus, Panadeine and Codral.
Lesley Brydon, chief executive of not-for-profit advocacy group Pain Australia, argues to AAP that this will not only make everyday aches and pain more inconvenient to treat, but more expensive due to the added red tape of processing prescription medication.
The change will come into effect on February 1, 2018.