Border pharmacies braced for prescription pill pains

Panadeine Forte, Nurofen Plus and Codral cold and flu tablets will require a doctor’s prescription from February, with residents concerned the new system will clog up Border waiting rooms.

From the first of the month, painkillers containing codeine will no longer be sold over the counter as part of an Australian-wide change designed to curb reliance on the opiate-based drug. 

Retail manager of Fifield’s Pharmacy on Dean Street Kaily Cullinger said the change might increase work for the region’s doctors. 

“It’s already hard to get appointments,” she said.

“People who have pain that paracetamol or ibuprofen won’t fix will have to make a doctor’s appointment and they’re already extremely busy.

“Hopefully people find relief through combinations of new products; ibuprofen, paracetamol, heat rubs etc, and try that before they go to the doctor – but a lot of people say they must have codeine.”

Wodonga’s Paul Obeit said many people would just put up with pain because of the cost and difficulty of getting a doctor’s appointment. “To get an appointment with my preferred doctor if I go through reception takes over a week,” he said.

“Most doctors charge around $70 upwards for a quick visit, I think a lot of people will just have to put up with the pain.”

Mrs Cullinger said since August the store had prepared itself and its customers for the change.

She said staff had discussed alternative pain relief including paracetamol and ibuprofen-based medications, as well as alternative therapies like heat rubs, heat packs, vitamins and natural therapies. 

“There will be a loss of sales but hopefully those other items pick up,” she said.

An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report found people living in remote areas were almost twice as likely as those living in major cities to have recently used a pharmaceutical for non-medical purposes.

News of the pending change has been advertised in many pharmacists since August last year, with Fifield’s also running a pain management clinic with an in-store nurse.

Mrs Cullinger said the pharmacy was a part of a nationwide database which can track codeine-based purchases across the country.