Codeine Rescheduling

On 1 February 2018, medicines containing codeine became unavailable over the counter in pharmacies across Australia and will only be provided on prescription.

There is clear evidence of significant misuse of codeine in Australia. It is a real and increasing problem with almost half a million people incorrectly using painkillers containing codeine in Australia.

The best medical advice and research shows that codeine is no better for pain than other over the counter medicines. The decision to make codeine-containing medicines prescription on 1 February 2018 was in line with 26 other countries which have taken similar action based on good scientific evidence. 

The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) is aware that this decision may have some unique implications for rural and remote practitioners and consumers. It is important that consumers are aware of the changes and are well prepared, particularly in areas where there are waiting times or where they may need to travel to visit their GP or health care service.

ACRRM is working with the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA), CRANAplus, and the National Rural Health Alliance to ensure that rural doctors and other health practitioners can access relevant training and information. This is to enable them to recommend the best and most appropriate form of treatment for their patients, and to ensure that consumers are prepared for the changes.

Webinar series

Webinar One: Codeine Rescheduling in Rural and Remote Communities - your questions answered

The first Codeine Rescheduling webinar was held on 15 February 2018. This webinar was chaired by Prof Dennis Pashen, and the presenters were Dr Suyin Tan (Pain Specialist) and Dr James Finn (Addiction Medicine Specialist). If you missed it you can view the recording here.

Webinar Two: Chronic and Acute Pain Management and Palliative Care

The second Codeine Rescheduling webinar was held on 12 April 2018. The panel for this webinar included Pharmacist Mr Tobias Speare, Addiction Medicine Specialist Dr James Finn, and Palliative Care Specialist Dr David Saner, and was hosted by Prof Dennis Pashen. If you missed it you can view the recording here.

Webinar Three: Pain Management in Palliative Care 

The third Codeine Rescheduling webinar was held on Tuesday 19 June 2018. In this webinar, Tasmanian Palliative Care Physician, Dr David Saner, discussed the basics of pain ethology in the palliative setting and use of non opiate agents in its management. Plus the how, what, when, where and where not of opiate use in the palliative setting. If you missed it you can view the recording here.

Webinar Four: Addiction and the Management of Withdrawal

The fourth Codeine Rescheduling webinar was held on Tuesday 17 July 2018. In this webinar, Clinical Director, Alcohol and Drug Service, Dr Jeremy Hayllar, discussed the key features of dependence and acute withdrawal management vs gradual withdrawal management vs pharmacotherapy maintenance treatment, and the key medications used in withdrawal management and complications. If you missed it you can view the recording here.

Downloadable resources for health workers

You're invited to download the following posters for use in your workplace.

Codeine Rescheduling Resources

The following links provide more information for health practitioners and consumers.

State Resources