With over-the-counter codeine medicines becoming unavailable from next month, the National Rural Health Alliance is encouraging people living in rural and remote Australia to act in advance if the change is likely to affect them.
From 1 February 2018 medicines containing codeine will only be available by prescription. The move was unanimously agreed to by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and is in line with changes introduced in many other parts of the world to reduce rates of opiate addiction and overdose.
To assist with the change, the Alliance has created materials to provide information and advice for those who may not have the same level of access to healthcare services as those who reside in metropolitan areas.
CEO, Mark Diamond, explains that the key message for people living in rural and remote Australia is to know your options and plan ahead:
“In many parts of the country, going to see a healthcare practitioner is not necessarily a simple matter of phoning to make an appointment and rocking up the next day. For many individuals, getting assistance depends very much on what health services are actually available in the area, and planning for the time, money and logistics involved in getting there.”
For this reason, Mr Diamond adds, the resources include information on nationwide phone and online services that can be utilised to receive healthcare advice and locate health clinics, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Medical services, and chemists.
Alliance Member Bodies, including the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM), CRANAplus and the Rural Doctors' Association of Australia (RDAA), are working to ensure that healthcare and allied health professionals in rural and remote areas are also prepared for the change. Funding for this initiative is provided by the Australian Government.
For more information and to download the resources, visit: www.ruralhealth.org.au/codeine
0428 817 090