In February 2018, the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration rescheduled codeine‐containing products as prescription only medicines because of misuse and dependence problems.
After the rescheduling of codeine‐containing analgesics, over‐the‐counter sales to pharmacies of paracetamol, paracetamol combinations, and ibuprofen products increased. In contrast, sales of prescription analgesics did not rise.
Sales of over‐the‐counter cold/flu products containing the opioid derivative dextromethorphan increased slightly, but not those of cough products containing dextromethorphan, dihydrocodeine, or pholcodine. Rescheduling codeine was followed by market substitution by over‐the‐counter analgesics with lower risks of dependence, primarily single ingredient paracetamol and ibuprofen.
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