Codeine-containing painkillers and cough and flu compounds are no longer available via your pharmacy. And they haven’t been for some time. They’re only available on prescription.
The reason for this is safety and effectiveness. Safety, because people were getting side effects from the codeine. One serious side effect was people getting addicted to it. Another was that many people were dying of this addition. In fact, it just wasn’t worth it. Ironically, codeine has not been proven to be very effective as a painkiller with something like paracetamol.
Whats actually more effective usually is a combination of paracetamol with ibuprofen. You can get these in combination compounds. Your GP will tell you if you’re allowed to have that.
But codeine-containing painkillers are not necessarily very effective for pain and they can cause a lot of harm.
Dr Norman Swan, Physician and Journalist