Pharmacies Notice Codeine Changes


Changes to Victorian legislation on 1 February 2018 saw medical products containing the painkiller codeine being classified as Prescription Only medication, meaning that they could no longer be sold over the counter. The products, which include Nurofen Plus and Panadeine, can now only be bought with a prescription from a doctor.

The change was brought in to reduce the potential impact of codeine and painkiller addiction, and prompted thousands of Australians that regularly used these products for pain relief to seek prescriptions.

“It’s definitely annoying for those that take it legitimately” says Andrew Farmer, pharmacist at Terry White Chemmart Hawthorn.

There was much debate prior to the reclassification as to whether there would be significant effects on the demand for pharmacists and medical practices.

Statistics from the Victorian Government as part of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme show that prescriptions for the codeine medicine Panadeine Forte increased from February to March, and these effects have been noticed by the local providers.

“It’s definitely had flow-on effects for us and the medical centre (Boroondara Health and Wellness Clinic, adjoining Terry White Chemmart).”

The pharmacy has seen a significant increase in patients going to the medical centre first for their prescriptions, then coming into the pharmacy for the product.

However, even though he has noticed the effects Andrew says “I don’t know whether or not it will achieve what the government was aiming.”

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