If you take over the counter pain killers, you should know this… 65



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To the average Australian, painkillers seem harmless. They’re then when you have a headache, backache or after a dentist appointment and they simply make you feel good again. However there’s a dark side to over the counter painkillers that has caused serious damage to Australians over the last few years – so much so that over the counter painkillers may one day become a thing of the past.

Health authorities are considering changing access to a range of painkillers and moving them from a schedule three drug to a schedule four drug – requiring a prescription from your doctor first. This means that for pensioners, the already expensive trip to the doctor will become more frequent, costing us even more.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that about 150 codeine products that are currently old over the counter will become prescription only over the next couple of years.

Medicines affected by the change could include Codral Original Cold and Flu Tablets, Nurofen Plus, some Panadeine, Aspalgin Soluble tablets and Mersyndol Tablets, which are marketed for short-term pain such as headaches, toothaches and period pain.

Science and trials have shown that when these drugs are controlled properly and taken in the correct dosage, they are harmless, efficient and effective when it comes to managing pain. And most of the population would agree. However, there’s a small minority who are using it dangerously – overdosing, becoming addicted and are facing major health complications or death as a result.

One of the particularly dangerous trends medical professionals have seen is when people mix excessive amounts of ibuprofen with excessive amounts of codeine, leading to gastrointestinal damage and internal bleeding.

In 2013, Monash University researchers reported nine deaths over a decade linked to toxicity from codeine-ibuprofen medicines. Some Australian addicts would visit multiple pharmacies in one day to purchase them without suspicion.

Recent government agency data shows the number of Australians being treated for codeine addiction more than tripled over the decade to 2012-13, from 318 to more than 1000 a year so it is a serious problem that does need to be stopped.

But what will it mean for us?

A lot more doctor visits it would seem or alternative product selections. We’re already facing increasing medical costs with each doctors visit and this will only make us need to visit more.

So tell us, would you support pain killers going prescription only? Or would that make things difficult for you? Share your thoughts in the comments below… 

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The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Another case where the vast majority must suffer for the stupidity of a few. This has become the Australian solution for so much. Leave the sensible vast majority alone!

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  2. Am I reading this right? There have been 9 deaths in 10 years so the stuff is dangerous??? If saving life is so important wouldn’t banning horse racing be a better idea? Or banning alcohol? Or having to go to a doctor for a prescription for alcohol and cigarettes. Who the hell is in charge of this asylum?

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  3. I get a script for Osteo Pannadol. However the cost of the script is higher than over the counter. As many of Us are self funded retirees NO assistance from GOV; Until My Wife & I reach the ever higher threshold, usually in NOVEMBER each year then we get a little break. Its hard to cover ever increasing costs of meds. Little alone the growing costs of every thing else. “A Rock and a Hard Place” for long term tax payers.

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    • I guess I will have to go to Bloody Centrelink and sit for hours. Never done this before, it will be an experience I think. I did download an “Application for the Disability Support Pension” 40 Pages of repetitive questions !!! Only 10 for My Doc and 30 for Me. I have read about many cases on another site simply called “Disability Support Pension” Group I think ? As We know GOV funds are tight, very tight, and what will happen in the NSW Budget Next Month One hates to think ? Seniors are hit every time, We paid Taxes for all Our working lives, but the Economy cant afford to care for all. Being self funded a I mentioned earlier with My Wife still working Our combined incomes are still low, however we are precluded. One could now just live together and declare we are Legally Separated ? The Missus of 44y won’t have a bar of that !! Its worth a try, will see how I go and report back here.

    • Can Anyone let me know What to do ? Anyone been there and done that ? Any assistance would be gladly accepted, Please let me know. Thank You All Very much. G

  4. well I had better buy a few extra doses of anything I might need.. we live in the Nanny State. They want to control and manipulate everything.. no I am not an addict, just a person who sometimes gets pain

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  5. I was taking an over the counter drug for migraine control. I went to a new doctor who asked what I prescription medications I was taking; then wanted to know what over the counter drugs I was taking. He was not impressed at my “just a ..” reply as my kidneys were in a very bad way.. Now my migraines are under control and my kidney function is almost normal again, thanks to him. I don’t take even a vitamin tablet without his say so. My own theory is that some headaches were “addiction” and my body knew that a headache would get some of it in my system.

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    • Karen, Over many years I have had several Doctors, changing only because 2 died, 1 went into the Public sector,1 retired. Changing Doctors can be a real problem as your old Doctor knew You very well. Having severe lower back pain due to 4 compound fractures I take Oxycontin an opiate. (Morphine) When one mentions this to a new Dr. Oh Boy out the door, its too much trouble to handle NSW Health Matters. Some things did change with My new Dr. We went through all meds and several were discontinued. I also keep a copy of all My Health written material in a folder. Always ask for a copy from Drs.Specialists, Hospitals etc. If You ask they have to give you them, its Your body.

    • Gregg, you may benefit by changing from oral pain meds to a patch that is changed every 3 days. The benefit of this is that your liver and kidneys are not involved in the process of medication, the pain relief is absorbed thru your skin and it goes directly into your bloodstream. You may also need to take a lots less by using this method, it may be worth talking to your doctor about changing over, it worked for me and my pain levels were much better managed

  6. I see. This time last year we were being asked to pay $7 co-payment to see a doctor. This was to reduce frivolous visits to the doctor. Now they want you to go to the doctor for a headache. All this because one person every year takes them unnecessarily. Seems someone is trying to make money.

  7. A simple blood test , and a Doctor can determine whetther someone is abusing over the counter meds, and the goes for alcohol and cigarrettes. There is good grounds for doctor/ prescription monitoring of people who are over-abusing all the above products, and it costs the medical profession mega dollars. I saw a bit of this with smokers in the cardiac ward about 18 months ago! Most were there for heart bypass surgury directly related to excessive smoking. For the rest of us that just take Panadol for that odd occasion — we don’t need to see a doctor or the high costs of a visit, and most times, its difficult to get an appointment with your regular GP, these days anyway ?

  8. Unfortunately we have become a nation of hypochondriacs.I know so many people that take a cocktail of medication,not knowing what it is for or even asking their doctor.Why is it necessary to take a pain killer for every little twinge.I broke my back and tore my hip muscle 7 months ago and the doctor was trying to force me to take low dose morpine tablets.I was in a lot of pain but got through it with a few over the counter Panadol.Some people i know would rattle if you shook them.Why have we become so dependant on medications?If the truth be told we don’t need most of them.

  9. No way would I support that and it’s totally uncalled for!The MAJORITY of people take these medications wisely and as recommended……..it’s the minority,as usual who cause these issues.How ridiculous to have to see a doctor foe a packet of Panadeine or similar1

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