Without the discovery of that elusive panacea, combination analgesics still struggle to find their place in healthcare.

The TGA has reaffirmed the decision to withdraw dextropropoxyphene’s registration because of an unacceptable safety profile. Even so, after the Administrative Appeals Tribunal orders the cancellation of DI-GESIC and DOLOXENE, committed patients can use mechanisms in the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 to maintain access to their chosen therapy.

A national survey of the US shows that a widespread decline in the nonmedical use of analgesics during the 80s has now reversed to the point that adolescent abuse is 40% higher than in previous generations. Tuesday’s 7.30 Report explored a similar misuse of over the counter painkillers in Australia, particularly codeine and ibuprofen, suggesting that distribution processes need further review.

Schedule changes in 2010 for combined analgesics to Pharmacist Only (S3) for up to 5 days treatment and up to 12mg codeine per tablet, or Prescription Only (S4), may yet need time to have full impact, or we healthcare professionals may need to identify and report issues more diligently, as the Database of Adverse Event Notifications shows that only 114 adverse events have been reported for ibuprofen and codeine, although half are related to dependence and abuse.

With 85% of our community reporting pain over the last year, demand is likely to keep NUROFEN PLUS as Australia’s No. 1 drug of choice for some time yet.

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