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Pharmacists’ fury over the decision to make codeine prescription-only

Pharmacists are upset at the decision to make codeine prescription-only. 

Codeine pain-killers will become prescription-only medicine from 2018 as a result of an increase in accidental deaths due to codeine overdose.

But Chemist Warehouse pharmacist Mario Tascone has told Tom Elliott the move won’t solve anything.

‘It penalises the majority of users, who don’t abuse codeine,’ Mr Tascone said.

‘It’s just a dumb decision. It’s a short-sighted decision.’

Mt Tascone said chemists should be able to control the volume of codeine in the same way they have successfully controlled the sale of pseudoephedrine.

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But a pain specialist thinks some of the reaction to the decision has been ‘hysterical’.

Dr Michael Vagg told Tom the last decade of research shows codeine isn’t as effective as first thought.

‘For example, paracetamol plus codeine, in over-the-counter doses, is not clearly better than paracetamol by itself,’ Dr Vagg said.

He said people who will need codeine in the future can simply ask their GP for a prescription in advance. 

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