Codeine Becomes a Prescription-Only Drug in Australia

Drug regulators say codeine carried a risk of addiction

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Australians that want to purchase codeine containing painkillers will require a doctor’s prescription starting from February 2018 according to a statement released by the Australian government.

The decision to move products containing codeine from OTC to schedule 4 prescription drugs was made by Australia’s Therapeutic Drugs Administration (TGA).

In the statement, the TGA said that consumers were frequently getting addicted to the drug and that “Misuse of over-the-counter codeine products contributes to severe health outcomes including liver damage, stomach ulceration, respiratory depression and death.”

Codeine is a narcotic pain reliever that is used for treating mild to moderate pain. It is also used to treat cough, diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome.

Australia now joins a list of developed countries that have banned OTC sale of codeine such as the U.S, Europe, Hong Kong and Japan in banning over-the-counter sale of codeine.

In Thailand codeine is also a prescription-only drug that requires a medical certificate or prescription written by a licensed medical doctor. However, possession of a drug in Thailand without a medical certificate can lead to detention and authorized drug testing.

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