Codeine up-scheduling - prepare now for February change

Dr Adam Coltzau: “If patients are concerned about how they are going to manage after February, they should consult their doctor now"

Dr Adam Coltzau: “If patients are concerned about how they are going to manage after February, they should consult their doctor now"

CHANGES to the availability of codeine containing medicines will come into effect on February 1. People who use medicines containing less than 30mg codeine per unit should be preparing now by discussing alternative options with their pharmacists, GP or other appropriate healthcare provider.

Dr Adam Coltzau, president of the Rural Doctors’ Association (RDAA), said that the up-scheduling of all medicines containing codeine to prescription only should result in positive outcomes for patients.

“Many people are unaware that low dose codeine is actually largely ineffective treating many conditions causing pain, and re-assessing pain management strategies should result in improved health outcomes for those struggling with chronic pain,” Dr Coltzau said.

“Regular users of low-dose codeine products available over-the-counter should consult with their pharmacist, nurse or doctor regarding other options that may be more effective, as well as more safe, such as paracetamol, ibuprofen and combinations of these two pain relievers. 

“For ongoing pain a combination of strategies that suit your condition and personal situation will achieve the best outcome. Medication alone is not effective and multidisciplinary pain management will address all of the factors associated with pain – including emotions, mental health, social relationships and work – to help get the best results.

“Online resources such as www.realrelief.org.au can provide patients with the facts and information on the proven alternative pain medications that are available.

“Also importantly, there are many patients out there who are suffering pain and have not consulted their health practitioner about it.

“If the codeine upscheduling prompts these people to visit their doctor or review their medication with their pharmacist, it will allow assessment and better treatment and management of their underlying condition.” 

In rural and remote areas, where people may have to travel to access their health service to review the management of these conditions, it is important for patients to schedule a visit with their GP or other health care provider sooner, rather than later.

“If patients are concerned about how they are going to manage after February, they should consult their doctor now, so they can make a start on trying new techniques straight away,” Dr Coltzau said.