hydromorphone morphine oxycodone The drugs have become household names in Australia: oxycodone, codeine, morphine and tramadol.
But from next week they will become even harder for people to access, as pack sizes are halved and doctors are told to dispense only to patients whose other treatments have failed.
The crackdown is in response to thousands of deaths linked to prescription opioids – almost 100 each month in Australia.
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While doctors and pain experts strongly back the changes, they also warned that patients needed to be given support to avoid the unintended consequences, such as overdoses, of people turning to illicit or black market alternatives.buy
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The changes, to be introduced from June 1, would require patients who have used prescription opioid painkillers for a year to have their cases reviewed by another doctor or pain specialist.
It is understood the size of opioid-based painkiller packs, including codeine and hydromorphone, will be cut in half, from 20 tablets to 10, and no repeats will be allowed unless a special exemption is sought and received by a doctor.
“To be eligible for treatment with opioids, patients will need to be unresponsive or intolerant, or have achieved inadequate relief of their acute pain, to maximum tolerated doses of non-opioid treatments,” a statement on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme website said.
Products impacted by the regulatory changes include tramadol, tapentadol, codeine, buprenorphine, hydromorphone, morphine, oxycodone and fentanyl.