Central Victorian pharmacies to no longer sell codeine-based painkiller over the counter

COMMON painkillers containing codeine will no longer be sold over-the-counter in pharmacies across central Victoria from February 1.

Medications like Nurofen Plus, Panadeine and Codral cold tablets will be affected by an Australia-wide change.

The government’s move comes as Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed 68 per cent of the 668 overdose deaths in 2013 were related to pharmaceutical opioids.

The survey also found millennials are twice as likely as Baby Boomers to have overused ibuprofen-codeine painkillers.

Advocacy group Painaustralia has encouraged people who rely on medications containing codeine to see their GP in preparation for the change.

Chief executive Carol Bennett is calling for better education for people who are dealing with chronic pain.

"We know that reliance on codeine and other opioid-based drugs for treatment of chronic pain is not effective,’’ she said.

“We also know these drugs are associated with significant unwanted side effects, risk of overuse, dependence and addiction. The community need to be more aware about the dangers of codeine use, and why it is ineffective for chronic pain management.

“In recent years, opioids have become the first line treatment for chronic pain, leaving many Australians relying on these drugs to manage their pain.

“People in pain need better information and access to long-term effective treatments.”