Codeine information hub: How and where to get advice

Related information

8 November 2017

What's changing?

From 1 February 2018, medicines containing codeine will no longer be available without a prescription.

The following page is guidance on how and where to get advice.

Pharmacists have an important role to play in minimising harm from codeine

The current range of codeine-containing over-the-counter medicines will continue to be available without a prescription in pharmacies until 31 January 2018. Pharmacists will continue to be an important source of information and advice for consumers both before and after this date.

Most people should be able to manage acute pain or cough and cold symptoms with safer alternative medicines. For acute pain, this may include products containing paracetamol or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen, or the two products in combination. Your pharmacist will be able to provide advice on the most appropriate medicines for you. Speaking with your pharmacist is particularly important if you have any other medical conditions, such as stomach, kidney, liver or heart problems.

Talk to your doctor

People with ongoing pain should talk to their doctor or healthcare provider to ensure that the best treatment options are used to manage their condition. These may include: alternative over-the-counter or prescription medicines; non-medicine therapies from an allied health professional such as a physiotherapist; self-management tools such as exercise or relaxation; or referral to a pain specialist or pain management clinic.

Ask your doctor about a Medicare-funded care plan which will allow you access to a rebate for treatment from an allied health professional. Medicare provides a rebate for the preparation of a Chronic Disease Management (CDM) Plan and a Team Care Arrangement (TCA).

For more information see Chronic Disease Management Patient Information.

Talking to your doctor will also enable you to discuss any other health problems, side-effects, potentially dangerous medicine interactions, and the risk of codeine dependence.

Further information on codeine's effect on the body is available at Codeine use can be harmful.

Chronic Pain management

Further resources and information for individuals experiencing chronic pain are available on the following websites:

NPS medicinewise logo

NPS MedicineWise

RealRelief

Supported by Painaustralia, the RealRelief resource contains personal stories, codeine facts and evidence and frequently asked questions. It also provides an opportunity to complete a questionnaire to see how the changes to codeine access will affect you.

ScriptWise logo

ScriptWise

'It's time to get candid about codeine'. Go to ScriptWise's community toolkit website for information on understanding codeine, pain, dependence, addiction and where to get support for yourself or someone else who might be suffering from medicine misuse and/or addiction.

Chronic pain management resources

Fact sheets

Video resources

Support services

The Department of Health has been working with a number of peak bodies to ensure that healthcare professionals are aware of the changes to codeine access and are able to help. These include:

  • Support for GP's and specialists (supported by The Australian Medical Association, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and Royal Australasian College of Physicians through additional funding for NPS MedicineWise).
  • Support to pharmacists (supported by The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia).
  • Providing support for health practitioners in rural and remote Australia (supported by The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine working with the Rural Doctors Association of Australia, Council of Remote Area Nurses of Australia and the National Rural Health Alliance).
  • Providing Support for consumers and people suffering chronic and acute pain (supported by Painaustralia and the Consumer Health Forum).

Additional national support services providing pain management support include:

State and territory support services

Information about codeine rescheduling in your state:

Contact information for state and territory drugs & poisons units
State/Territory Website Contact details
Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

ACT Health

Pharmaceutical Services

Email: hps@act.gov.au

Phone: 02 6205 1700 or 02 6205 0998

New South Wales (NSW)

NSW Ministry of Health

Pharmaceutical Services

Email: pharmserv@doh.health.nsw.gov.au

Phone: 02 9391 9944

Northern Territory (NT)

NT Department of Health

Environmental Health - Medicines & Poisons Control

Phone: 08 8922 7341
Queensland (QLD)

QLD Health

Medicines: Medicines Regulation & Quality

Poisons: Poisons Management

Medicines:

Email: mrq@health.qld.gov.au

Phone: 07 3328 9890

Poisons:

Email: environmentalhazards@health.qld.gov.au

Phone: 07 3328 9310

South Australia (SA)

SA Health

Medicines and Technology Policy and Programs

Phone: 08 8204 1942 or 08 8226 7100

Tasmania (TAS)

TAS Department of Health & Human Services

Pharmaceutical Services

Codeine Rescheduling

Phone: 03 6166 0400
Western Australia (WA)

WA Health

Pharmaceutical Services

Phone: 08 9222 6883
Victoria (VIC)

VIC Department of Health & Human Services

Drugs and Poisons Regulation

Phone: 1300 364 545