As Australians will now have to go visit their GP to get a prescription for codeine medications, the makers of Panafen Plus, Panadeine, Panadeine Rapid Soluble and Panadeine Extra have discontinued the medications entirely from the Australian market.
The makers of the codeine-containing painkiller Panadeine are discontinuing the product from the Australian market entirely, as the new ban on over-the counter codeine medications comes into effect.
Retail shelves across the country have been stripped of low-dose codeine medications as the ban comes into force on February 1.
Australians will now need a doctor's prescription to obtain them.
In anticipation of the ban, some drug makers have rolled out new pain medications mixing ibuprofen with paracetamol for those seeking a stronger painkiller.
But others have taken the drastic move of pulling their codeine products off the market entirely.
GlaxoSmithKline Australia says it respects the Therapeutic Goods Administration's decision to up-schedule codeine-containing analgesics.
“After a thorough assessment of the strong pain environment we believe that Australians already have access to a wide range of high quality codeine-containing analgesics via prescription,” a spokeswoman told SBS News.
“Based on this we have taken the decision to withdraw our codeine-containing analgesics Panafen Plus, Panadeine, Panadeine Rapid Soluble and Panadeine Extra) from the Australian market.”
Some pain sufferers anxious about the ban have been stockpiling ahead of the ban, according to reports from the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.
Guild Vice President Caroline Diamantis says some people have been requesting several boxes of codeine medications from pharmacies.
“We've actually had to control that [stockpiling)] quite strictly because the last thing we want is for dozens of boxes of codeine containing analgesics such as Mersyndol and Nurofen Plus being in people's houses,” she told SBS News.
Ms Diamantis says many pain sufferers have been panicking about the ban.
The Guild is now lobbying the NSW Government to introduce a mandatory real time monitoring system into all community pharmacies in the state, to permit pharmacists to supply a two or three day supply of codeine medications, without a prescription.
Advocacy body Pain Australia is advising pain sufferers to see their GP and put in place a pain plan to help them through the transition.
Chief executive Carol Bennett says the federal government should institute a national action plan that would give people access to affordable alternative treatment options to manage their ongoing pain.
She said Australia had a major and growing chronic pain problem.
“This is a national emergency - we have millions of people with chronic pain,” Ms Bennett told SBS News.
“We need to be doing something about that, we need to make sure that those people are not left in the lurch and that they can access treatment options (from) the 1st of February.”
Overall, the group supports the ban.
“We're one of 25 other countries all around the world who've moved to restrict access to codeine because it's not safe and it's not effective for chronic pain. “