Now that low-dose codeine combinations are available only on prescription, concerns have been raised about potential problems with ibuprofen

In an editorial published by the AJP, Ron Batagol and Professor Gregory Peterson suggested that ibuprofen is likely to become a “mainstay” for those seeking pain relief without presenting to their GP.

They warned that consumers may “increasingly seek to self-select and purchase ibuprofen products from supermarkets as an alternative to codeine, without utilising the professional advice and guidance of a pharmacist,” thus leaving themselves open to an adverse event should they have an underlying cardiac or renal problem.

Restricting the sale of ibuprofen to pharmacies would help reduce potential harms to such patients, they argue.

The concerns came following the decision by the Advisory Committees on Chemicals and Medicines Scheduling regarding the size of S2 packs as well as whether to retain ibuprofen in the grocery channel.

The ACCS/ACMS rejected the application to reduce S2 ibuprofen in divided preparations, each containing 200 mg or less of ibuprofen, to packs of not more than 30 dosage units, down from the current pack size of not more than 200 dosage units.

It also decided to keep ibuprofen available in non-pharmacy channels, a move which was welcomed by the Australian Self-Medication Industry but criticised by PSA national president Shane Jackson.

“If we are focused on patient safety then ibuprofen would not be available in supermarkets where unsupervised and unlimited purchases can be made,” Dr Jackson said on Twitter, pointing out that pharmacy advice is often available after hours and that ibuprofen is contraindicated for many people.

AJP would like to know what you think. Particularly now that OTC codeine is off the table, should access to ibuprofen be restricted – or do you support the status quo?