OTC analgesics like Bex in 1960s

COMBINATION opioid analgesics would follow Bex into oblivion – or at least be relegated to prescription-only status – if one of Australia’s top addiction experts gets his way.

Dr Michael McDonough, head of addiction medicine at Melbourne’s Western Hospital, has called for the medications to be better controlled, arguing that the inclusion of opioids such as codeine in combination analgesic products has led to dependence problems, along with mental and physical health issues.

In a letter in the latest MJA, Dr McDonough said the current use of compound analgesics was “remarkably similar” to the widespread aspirin-phenacetin-caffeine “misuse” of the 1950s.

“I question the need for opioids in combination analgesic products and, if used, they should be restricted to prescription,” he wrote. 

He said a review he had undertaken of 32 “excessive” compound analgesic users