University of Tasmania

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Attitudes in Australia on the upscheduling of over-the-counter codeine to a prescription-only medication

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 08:33 authored by Jacquelyn McCoy, Raimondo BrunoRaimondo Bruno, Nielsen, S

Introduction and Aims: In December 2016, the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration announced that over-the-counter (OTC) codeine would be available by prescription-only in February 2018. Prior to this announcement, the authors aimed to evaluate attitudes among Australian codeine consumers, pharmacists and general medical practitioners (GP) towards the proposed upscheduling of OTC codeine.

Design and Methods: Public Therapeutic Goods Administration submissions on codeine upscheduling were assessed, and a brief questionnaire was developed to assess the common issues raised. Participants (354 codeine consumers; 220 pharmacists; 120 GPs) completed a web-based questionnaire. Comparisons of attitudes on specific statements related to codeine upscheduling were made between consumers who were in support and those who opposed the proposal and between pharmacists and GPs. Regression models were conducted to examine correlates of attitudes towards codeine restriction.

Results: Most consumer, pharmacist and a third of GP respondents opposed the upscheduling of codeine. Consumers, on average, questioned whether the proposed intervention would address the intended targets of minimising codeine-related side effects and risk of codeine dependence. Like consumers, pharmacists indicated concern around whether codeine restriction would address concerns of associated harm and dependence, as well as the burden regular GP appointments would create in terms of finances for consumers and time for GPs. GPs themselves, did not support these views.

Discussion and Conclusions: Consumer responses identify key targets for educational campaigns when codeine is rescheduled, particularly around effective alternatives to OTC codeine. Additionally, contrasting views of pharmacists and GPs reinforce the importance of pharmacovigilance in evaluating the effectiveness of codeine restriction, once implemented.


Publication title

Drug and Alcohol Review








School of Psychological Sciences


Carfax Publishing

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2017 Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Public health (excl. specific population health) not elsewhere classified

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