Canberrans to require a prescription for codeine

31 January 2018

All medicines containing codeine, including some pain, cold and flu medicines, will be available by prescription only from tomorrow (1 February 2018).

Acting ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Paul Dugdale said the changes were part of a national decision to protect the community from the harms associated with codeine use.

“Low dose codeine has been widely used for pain relief. There is growing evidence that the harms arising from over-the-counter codeine use and misuse substantially outweigh the benefits,” Dr Dugdale said.

“The change presents an opportunity for GPs and pharmacists to advise consumers about alternative pain management in line with clinical evidence. Other over-the-counter medicines such as paracetamol and ibuprofen have been shown to be at least as effective as codeine products that are currently available over-the-counter.

“We do not anticipate hospital emergency department or GP waiting times to be significantly impacted as a result of the changes, due to the availability of alternative medicines.

“ACT residents who are currently taking medicines containing codeine or are in need of ongoing pain relief should visit their local GP to develop a treatment plan that will work best for them.”

The change is the result of an extensive review and consultation undertaken by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) through the national medicines scheduling process.

The ACT is implementing the national scheduling decision in full, which includes making codeine a prescription-only medicine from 1 February 2018.

A full suite of resources for consumers and health professionals is available on the TGA website.

Media call: 11am, Wednesday 31 January 2018 at Belconnen Health Centre 56 Lathlain St, Cohen St, Belconnen with acting Chief Health Officer Dr Paul Dugdale

Media contact:

Health Media

M 0403 344 080


ACT Government | Health Directorate