From 1 February 2018, medicines containing codeine will no longer be available without a prescription. Nurses and midwives are well placed to discuss the changes to codeine access.
About the change in codeine access
Research shows that current over-the-counter low-dose (<30 mg) codeine-containing products offer little additional pain relief when compared to similar medicines without codeine. Codeine can be harmful. Health risks include tolerance, dependence, addiction, poisoning and, in high doses, even death. In addition, side effects of long term use of combination codeine medicines containing paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), are also potentially life threatening.
Prescribing by registered nurses and midwives
People will be able to access prescription medicines if and when they need them by consulting with a health practitioner with prescribing authority. Nurse practitioners and midwives with scheduled medicines endorsement are authorised prescribers and can prescribe codeine containing medicines when appropriate, consistent with their scope of practice. In some jurisdictions, registered nurses in rural and remote areas can supply codeine-containing medicines in specific circumstances, under protocol.
- Nurses and midwives fact sheet: Talking to people about changes to codeine access
- Education resources for nurses and midwives
- Codeine information hub