Codeine ban could drive customers to anger: pharmacists

PHARMACISTS are preparing to face angry customers this week as new laws come into place banning the sale of pain medication codeine over the counter.

From Thursday the ingredient - popularly used in Nurofen Plus and Panadeine - cannot be sold without a prescription.

Sellers of the drug have already been struck by a run on the product as buyers rushed to purchase codeine products before the February 1 deadline.

Pharmacists say they will be facing some angry customers from Thursday.

Pharmacy Guild of Australia spokesman Greg Turnbull told Nine that his group's members were concerned about how buyers would react.

"Pharmacists are the most accessible health professionals we have. So lots of people go to a pharmacy for their needs as their first port of call and many people are used to being able to buy these medicines over the counter," Mr Turnbull said.

"They may well express not only disappointment but anger if they are denied access to this medicine."

Australia's Therapeutic Drug Administration regulates the sale of medication nationally. It warns that most of us are unaware of how much harm codeine can cause.

The TGA says the ban on sales without a prescription is driven by safety.

"Codeine can cause opioid tolerance, dependence, addiction, poisoning and in high doses, even death."

It found that small-dose codeine products "offer very little additional benefit" over similar products without it. However, codeine is far riskier to use.

The Australian Medical Association backed the ban in August, saying "death and illness from codeine" had increased in Australia.

"There is no evidence that low-dose codeine provides any benefit beyond placebo," president Dr Michael Gannon said.

"Codeine is not a safe treatment for long term or chronic pain."

News Corp Australia

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