There is current debate about whether Panadeine, Nurofen Plus and Codral Original Cold and Flu tablets that contain codeine should be bought only with a valid script, on advise in 2015 by the Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling. Codeine is an opioid, which is a drug of addiction, and with the ability to buy over the counter without a script, there is little or no regulatory supervision or control, with their volume of sales directly related to pharmacy profitability. Specialists believe that codeine has little benefit for pain relief, with a high risk.
The Medical Journal of Australia study found codeine deaths increased from 53 in 2000 to more than 155 in 2009. Half of the 1437 death recorded in the study were thought to be due to accidental overdose.
A University of Adelaide study found hospitalisations associated with codeine overuse cost $10 000 per admission. The Consumers Health Forum is protesting to keep the medicines containing codeine available over the counter, with a concern that issuing with a script will increase costs and make the medicine difficult to access. The Pharmacy Guild of Australian says making the medicines prescription only will not stop abuse, and increase health spending, because Medicare will have to fund doctor's visits when patients get a prescription.