From 1 April 2021, short-course packs of immediate-release oxycodone (5mg x 10 capsules) are available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). The criteria for this restricted benefit is the short-term management of acute severe pain where non-opioid analgesics are inappropriate.

This PBS listing supports the recommendations of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to improve the safety of opioid use. Studies suggest that up to 71% of opioid doses prescribed to surgical patients are not used, and the majority of unused doses are not disposed of or stored correctly. These practices increase the risk of opioid misuse and diversion.

This new PBS listing may provide a more appropriate option for patients with acute severe pain, e.g., following surgery or injury. However, the larger pack sizes (20 capsules) are still available on the PBS for patients who need them. Further information on opioid reforms is available on the TGA website. A collection of pain management tools and resources is also available to help guide clinical decision-making.


  1. Bicket MC, Long JJ, Pronovost PJ, Alexander GC, Wu CL. Prescription opioids commonly unused after surgery: a systematic review. JAMA Surg. 2017; 152(11): 1066-71.
  2. Department of Health. Prescription opioids. Woden: Therapeutic Goods Administration; 2021.

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