Codeine Rescheduling

On 1 February 2018, medicines containing codeine became unavailable over the counter in pharmacies across Australia and will only be provided on prescription.

There is clear evidence of significant misuse of codeine in Australia. It is a real and increasing problem with almost half a million people incorrectly using painkillers containing codeine in Australia.

The best medical advice and research shows that codeine is no better for pain than other over the counter medicines. The decision to make codeine-containing medicines prescription on 1 February 2018 was in line with 26 other countries which have taken similar action based on good scientific evidence. 

The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) is aware that this decision may have some unique implications for rural and remote practitioners and consumers. It is important that consumers are aware of the changes and are well prepared, particularly in areas where there are waiting times or where they may need to travel to visit their GP or health care service.

ACRRM is working with the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA), CRANAplus, and the National Rural Health Alliance to ensure that rural doctors and other health practitioners can access relevant training and information. This is to enable them to recommend the best and most appropriate form of treatment for their patients, and to ensure that consumers are prepared for the changes. 

Webinar series: Codeine Rescheduling in Rural and Remote Communities - your questions answered

The first Codeine Rescheduling webinar was held on 15 February 2018. This webinar was chaired by Prof Dennis Pashen, and the presenters were Dr Suyin Tan (Pain Specialist) and Dr James Finn (Addiction Medicine Specialist). If you missed it you can view the recording here.

The following links provide more information for health practitioners and consumers.

TGA Codeine Information Hub

NPS Medicinewise
- For consumers
- For health professionals
- How GPs can help patients
- Podcast on codeine misuse and dependency

Real Relief Campaign

Pain Australia

ANZCA Faculty of Pain Medicine


Australian Prescriber

PHN Brisbane NorthCodeine: chronic use and deprescribing HealthPathway - authored by Brisbane North PHN

  • Username: Brisbane
  • Password: North

State Resources

Queensland Health

New South Wales Health

Victoria Health

Tasmania Health

South Australia Health

Western Australia Health