28 February 2018
MEDIA RELEASE: Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance (ATA) launch campaign to repeal ban on over-the-counter Codeine sales
The ATA today launched its campaign to repeal the ban on over-the-counter sales of Codeine at Australian pharmacies, a move that forces Australians seeking short-term relief from acute pain such as migraines and toothache to endure hour-long queues to see their GP for something that once took minutes - straining the Medicare system, driving up costs for taxpayers, and taking away resources from sufferers of more serious illness who need it the most.
“Forcing suffering Australians to obtain a script for effective pain relief will hurt all of us, especially disadvantaged groups.” said Satyajeet Marar, Director of Policy at the ATA. “We are surprised that Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt is defending a policy that denies women much needed short-term relief from period pain and endometriosis. It disproportionately hurts rural or regional Australians who do not have easy access to a doctor, and hurts those who cannot resort to alternative medications due to allergy or side effects. It is also a major setback for sufferers of long-term chronic pain who need more options for relief, not less. Pain clinics in Australia are already difficult to access, with long wait-lists.
“While policy-makers are rightly concerned about monitoring and preventing drug abuse, most people who used codeine-based products did so safely. The MedsAssist program was a unique, real-time monitoring scheme for over-the-counter medication developed by the pharamcist’s guild that effectively addressed the problem.
“This proven initiative has now been scrapped in favour of a ban that will make abusers invisible, will force them to engage in dubious practices such as resorting to the codeine black market, doctor shopping, double-dosing on alternative drugs such as Ibuprofen which is even more dangerous and engaging in inappropriate use of medication that contains codeine.
“Codeine is proven to provide more effective pain relief than ibuprofen or paracetamol. Banning the sale of codeine hurts responsible Australians suffering from pain, punishes all of us by putting strain on our Medicare system’s resources and funds while lengthening queues at the GP. It is especially unfair to women, the working poor, chronic pain sufferers and rural and regional Australians. We call on the government to revoke its ban and to reintroduce the successful MedsAssist program in order to effectively monitor the abuse of over-the-counter medication in real time.
To support this important campaign, click here and contact your local representative.