Poll: What concerns you most about the codeine upschedule?

We want to know your thoughts about the upcoming schedule change in February 2018

From February 2018 medicines containing codeine will no longer be available OTC, meaning pharmacists will need to provide alternative medicines and methods of managing pain.

Clinical pharmacist Joyce McSwan, pain educator and Persistent Pain Program manager at the Gold Coast Primary Health Network, says the next 11 months are “critical”.

“Upscheduling codeine will bring about its own changes in the way prescriptions are managed from the GP and persons suffering pain, which remain unknown to all of us.”

Karalyn Huxhagen, consultant pharmacist and winner of the 2015 PSA Award for Quality Use of Medicines in Pain Management, told AJP that there will be a negative impact unless patients have someone to turn to who can reinforce the alternatives available.

Possible substitutes for the treatment of pain include paracetamol and NSAIDs, in particular combination paracetamol and ibuprofen medications such as Maxigesic or Nuromol.

Pharmacists are going to have to think about stock in the lead-up, says CEO of AFT Pharmaceuticals, Dr Hartley Atkinson.

“There are alternatives, it’s about starting to discuss those with patients, maybe get them started on a pack and see how they feel,” says Dr Atkinson.

“Also some medicines are being dropped as well so people will need to prepare for that too… The key message to pharmacists is ‘think ahead’,” he says.

We want to know what you’re preparing for over the next 11 months.

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NOTICE: It can sometimes take awhile for comment submissions to go through, please be patient.


  1. Andrew

    No option regarding challenges to public health? After all…that’s the business we’re supposed to be in, right?

    Every time access to a “recreational” substance has been impaired it has caused a flood of users to other more harmful options. Every time, without fail.

    A huge cohort of undertreated pain and opiod-loving patients will be scratching around for an alternative. Luckily for them the black market for fentanyl and oxycodone is strong (ie. wastewater analysis paper of last week), so some will move on to that. Carfentanil has been detected at the borders so that’s already sloshing around too.

    So my concern is about public health and the push effect that a mild addiction to codeine will have on some users post-upscheduling.

    • Sheshtyn Paola

      Hi Andrew,
      Thank you for your comment. I have added the following option to the poll:
      “Patients moving on to stronger, more dangerous alternatives”
      Kind regards,
      Sheshtyn Paola (AJP)

  2. Reza Safaei-Hosseinpour

    Has anyone considered the fact that we are going to have a rise in Rikodeine requests? Maybe I’m wrong.

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