From February 1st, all codeine-based medications ( such as nurofen plus) will be prescription-only.

Low dose codeine containing medications are currently available to buy over the counter from the pharmacy for pain or cough relief without a prescription .

The changes have been made following International and Australian studies demonstrating little benefit in pain control for most people by theses products and significant risks, including addiction, side-effects and withdrawal symptoms when ceasing them and poisoning if taken in large doses when combined with paracetamol or ibuprofen. The changes have also been made across most countries around the world for the same reasons.

There are many products available for treating cough, cold and flu symptoms which do not contain codeine.

The studies of acute pain control ( less than 3 months), including post operative, dental , period pain and musculoskeletal found that paracetamol/ibuprofen combinations offer similar acute relief to that offered by the codeine-based analgesics with overall less side-effects (codeine is associated with constipation, nausea, dizziness and fatigue).

Those people who have been using these medications long term for pain such as chronic backache, joint pains or regular headaches will now need to re-evaluate management with their GP or use on-line resources . It may be possible to address the problems in a more effective way, such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, massage or use psychological techniques. Codeine will also remain available as a prescription only medication.

There are online self-management resources that may be of help. See 'Chronic pain management ' and 'National support services' under 'How and where to get advice' in the TGA codeine information hub. ( Another resource is the website for those suffering musculoskeletal chronic pain, established by Curtin University and the Department of Health, painHealth.

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