Rx codeine move success

The move to prescription-only codeine in Australia has seen a 50% reduction in the monthly rate of codeine-related poisoning calls and halved codeine sales, according to new research led by the University of Sydney.

The study, published in Addiction, is the first peer-reviewed research to examine the short-term implications of the removal of over-the-counter sales of low-strength codeine in Feb 2018.

Sydney Pharmacy School and Director of Research at the NSW Poisons Information Centre and lead author, Dr Rose Cairns, said the data paints a positive picture of the impact of the legislative changes. “We saw a massive and abrupt reduction in codeine poisonings following the 2018 move to prescription-only sales,” Cairns said.

“Interestingly, and despite what many predicted, we didn’t see an increase in poisonings with higher-strength codeine or stronger opioids, so it really is a good news story.  “The sales data also showed a similar picture.  “There were big reductions in sales of low-strength codeine, with no increase in sales of higher strength codeine.”

Source:, 3 October 2019