News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


OTC analgesics containing codeine safe for majority of users

OTC analgesics containing codeine safe for majority of users

1 May 2015 – Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines containing codeine, including codeine-combination analgesics, are an effective short-term option for temporary relief of moderate to strong pain, when taken according to the directions on the pack, the consumer healthcare products industry body, the New Zealand Self-Medication Industry (SMI) reaffirms today.

SMI’s comments follow news that Australia’s drug regulator is considering a proposal to make around 150 codeine-containing products prescription-only, meaning they would no longer be available in Australia without a prescription from a doctor.

In New Zealand, OTC codeine-combination analgesics are only available behind the counter in pharmacy after consultation with a pharmacist. These medicines are intended strictly for short-term use and pack sizes are limited. Longer term use should only occur under the direction of a GP or pharmacist.

As a pharmacist-only medicine, pharmacists are required to determine whether it is appropriate to supply analgesics containing codeine. They are required to assist the consumer with appropriate product selection and to recommend an alternative analgesic option where it is warranted.

“The issue of misuse and addiction to OTC analgesics is a serious health issue, which should not be downplayed. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the vast majority of people who use these products do so responsibly,” says SMI executive director Tim Roper.

Mr Roper continues: “SMI is committed to supporting the quality use of medicines in all aspects of analgesic use, including issues such as labelling, packaging, dosage and availability of public information. We continue to work with pharmacists and Medsafe, the regulator of medicines in New Zealand, on safe use of all OTC medicines.”

According to Mr Roper:“The use of non-prescription medicines containing codeine is safe when used according to label instructions. These medicines are intended strictly for short term use and in New Zealand packs are labelled that codeine should only be used for a maximum of three days. The pack also states that codeine is an addictive substance.”

When taking a pain reliever, like any medicine, it is important that consumers read the label carefully, including the warning statements on the pack, and only take the medicines as directed.

“SMI supports several measures to encourage the appropriate use of codeine-combination analgesics and minimise the risk of misuse, including mandatory on-pack warnings about codeine’s potential for addiction; and continuing to limit pack sizes so consumers must interact with a pharmacist if more pain relief is needed.”

Mr Roper says that, although NZ does not have a real-time monitoring system, SMI would be prepared to support the idea and work towards its implementation.

“We would also support the full implementation of a programme to equip pharmacists with the information they need to counsel and educate consumers about the appropriate use of codeine. However, time would be needed for such a programme to take effect.”


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Dryzabone - Robert Conolly's The Dry

After the terrible devastation caused by last year’s bushfires, which prompted hundreds of Australians to shelter in the ocean to escape incineration and destroyed uncountable amounts of wildlife, The Dry has been released during a totally different kind of dry spell. More>>

Howard Davis: Benjamin Ree's The Painter and The Thief

The Norwegian filmmaker had long been fascinated by art thieves who commit high-stakes crimes with a delicate touch when a chance Google search in 2015 uncovered a botched heist in Oslo. More>>

Howard Davis: Anna Coddington Beams

Anna Coddington's thin, wispy vocals fit her songs beautifully, providing a wonderful lilting quality that pervades her latest album, producing instant ear worms. More>>

Howard Davis: Hit the Road, Jack - Chloé Zhao's Nomadland

Nomadland is perhaps the ultimately 'road' movie as it follows a group of dispossessed and disenfranchised vagabonds who find a form of communal refuge in camp sites and trailer parks after the economic contraction of 2008. More>>

Howard Davis: Byrneing Down the House - Spike Lee's American Utopia

Lee does an admirable job capturing Byrne's stunning live performance of his latest album, but the real star of the show is the staging. More>>

Howard Davis: The Phoenix Foundation Friend Ship Tour Docks in Wellington

A sense of local pride was certainly running high at the Opera House on Saturday night, as the lads ran through a tasty little set drawn mostly from their latest album Friend Ship (splash out for Xmas on the shocking pink extra-thick vinyl edition). More>>

Howard Davis: Avantdale Bowling Club

Auckland rapper and MC Tom Scott brought his stunning jazz-infused Taite Music Prize-winning project Avantdale Bowling Club to the Opera House headlining Wellington's 2020 Jazz Festival. More>>

Howard Davis: Troy Kingi Rules The San Fran

The award-winning Northland musician performed songs from his new record The Ghost of Freddie Cesar, the fourth installment in his 10/10/10 series - ten albums in ten years in ten genres. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland