The past month has seen the introduction of new codeine upscheduling legislation. This has been one of the most contentious pain issues and one that has highlighted the prevalence of chronic pain and need for better pain management options in Australia.
While there was significant media and public focus on the issue prior to 1 February, post upscheduling was a different story. The major issue of concern to consumers reported in the media was the price increases for prescription codeine products since the upschedule. Painaustralia supported the call from Minister Greg Hunt for an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. We are hopeful that this can be resolved to ensure that consumers needing access to codeine for pain management as determined by their GP under the new rules do not experience significant financial barriers to their treatment.
With codeine now on script and increasing prescribing of opioid medication for non-cancer pain, the Therapeutic Goods Administration is consulting on the regulatory options for Australia. In its submission to the review, Painaustralia has emphasised the need for better education and awareness of opioid use for pain management among health professionals and consumers.
Painaustralia is concerned that a blunt regulatory approach to prescribing will not address the clear need for a national and holistic strategy to better prevent, treat and manage pain as a national health priority. This issue extends beyond the remit of regulation and requires a cross-portfolio and multi-level government response.
Other current policy reviews that Painaustralia has participated in this past month include a proposal to upschedule ibuprofen, access to superannuation for medical bills, the regulatory impact statement and proposed regulations for the new Victorian real time monitoring system (SafeScript) and complementary medicines reforms.
Thanks to all our members and partners who have given us feedback for these various reviews – your input ensures that we reflect the range of views important to achieving better outcomes for Australians living with pain.