Codeine information hub: How and where to get advice
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:
- Information on living with and managing chronic pain
- Tips for talking to your health professional, including a communication tool
- Other Useful links and resources for managing pain
- Managing Chronic pain video Dr Malcolm Hogg, Head of Pain Management Services, Royal Melbourne Hospital
- FAQs about chronic pain
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.
'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
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:
- Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI) Pain Management Network
- Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS)
- Ask Your Pharmacist
- Australian Pain Management Association
- Australian Pain Society Facility Directory
- Chronic Pain Australia
- Healthdirect Australia - 24 Hour Health Advice Line 1800 022 222
- Pain Link Helpline 1300 340 357
- Pain Management Network
- WA PainHealth
State and territory support services
Information about codeine rescheduling in your state:
- New South Wales – Department of Health, Pharmaceutical services, Over-the-counter medicines containing codeine to become prescription only
- Queensland – Queensland Health, Medicines containing codeine
- Tasmania – Department of Health and Human Services, Codeine Rescheduling
|Australian Capital Territory (ACT)||
Phone: 02 6205 1700 or 02 6205 0998
|New South Wales (NSW)||
NSW Ministry of Health
Phone: 02 9391 9944
|Northern Territory (NT)||
NT Department of Health
|Phone: 08 8922 7341|
Medicines: Medicines Regulation & Quality
Poisons: Poisons Management
Phone: 07 3328 9890
Phone: 07 3328 9310
|South Australia (SA)||
Phone: 08 8204 1942 or 08 8226 7100
TAS Department of Health & Human Services
|Phone: 03 6166 0400|
|Western Australia (WA)||
|Phone: 08 9222 6883|
VIC Department of Health & Human Services
|Phone: 1300 364 545|