Sales of opioid painkiller codeine have halved in Australia

Codeine packet

Marco Rosario Venturini Autieri/Getty

Sales of codeine have halved in Australia since it became a prescription-only drug, and fears that the change would drive people toward stronger opioids appear to be unfounded.

The decision to ban over-the-counter sales of the opiate painkiller came amid a growing concern about the opioid epidemic sweeping through the US. Similar problems were emerging in Australia as codeine-related deaths had more than doubled in the decade to 2009.

Before February 2018, Australians could buy low-dose codeine in combination with other painkillers …


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