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Impact of removing nonprescription codeine in Australia: protocol for a prospective cohort study


McCoy, J and Nielsen, S and Bruno, R, Impact of removing nonprescription codeine in Australia: protocol for a prospective cohort study, JMIR Research Protocols, 9, (3) Article e15540. ISSN 1929-0748 (2020) [Contribution to Refereed Journal]

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DOI: doi:10.2196/15540



On February 1, 2018, Australia rescheduled codeine to a prescription-only medication. Many concerns were associated with this change, including increased financial costs, reduced service accessibility, the potential for poorer pain management, and a decline in physical and mental health if codeine could not be accessed. In the research literature, there is limited knowledge about the long-term consequences of rescheduling pharmaceutical opioids and, as Australia has followed many countries in implementing a restriction on codeine, further study of these consequences is critical.


The goal of this study was to examine the impact of rescheduling codeine from an over-the-counter (OTC) product to a prescription-only medicine on the primary measures of codeine use and dependence in a prospective cohort of people who are frequent consumers of OTC codeine. Secondary measures included pain and self-efficacy, health service use, and mental health.


All four waves of data collection are complete, with the final round of data collection finalized in August 2019. Data analyses are yet to be completed. Information on demographics, codeine use and dependence, physical and mental health, medication use, and health service use will be analyzed using mixed models.


Results of this study will provide insight into the effectiveness of regulatory restriction in curtailing nonmedical use of and harms associated with codeine. Additionally, results will explore positive and negative outcomes of codeine rescheduling for individual patients, which informs health professionals who support patients who use codeine and further community education.

Item Details

Item Type:Contribution to Refereed Journal
Keywords:pharmaceutical opioid dependence, codeine, opioids, dependence, rescheduling, drug policy
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Clinical and health psychology
Research Field:Health psychology
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Substance abuse
UTAS Author:McCoy, J (Ms Jacqui McCoy)
UTAS Author:Bruno, R (Associate Professor Raimondo Bruno)
ID Code:142487
Year Published:2020
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2021-01-19
Last Modified:2021-02-05

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