News & Announcements

The Sydney Addiction Seminars are a post-graduate health education series now held under the auspices of Drug Health Services, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, and the Department of Addiction Medicine, University of Sydney. They are convened by Dr Richard Hallinan and Professor Paul Haber.


Wednesday 7th June, 2017

"Codeine rescheduling: out of the frying pan and into the fire?"
Debate and Discussion

Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has decided to move all over the counter codeine containing products to Schedule 4: in future they will be available only by doctor’s prescription. The grounds for this decision are largely the risk of addiction and its complications and costs. The economic benefits are largely attributed to projected improved pain management, including increased use of paracetamol/ibuprofen combinations and non-pharmacological treatment of chronic pain.

Yet we still have no real-time information on prescription and dispensing of S4 and S8 medications, and prescription shopping is alive and well. There are apprehensions about increased use of paracetamol/ibuprofen combinations, of long acting opioids, and off label use of other medications, and that pain specialist services and non-pharmacological treatment of chronic pain are in short supply.

This seminar, in the form of a friendly debate and panel discussion, will present 5 different perspectives on the change in codeine scheduling, and explore the implications for patients and clinicians, with a critical appraisal of projected costs and benefits, of future challenges and opportunities. The focus will be on how clinicians and pharmacists can work to ensure the best outcomes for our patients.

Presenters and panel: Richard Hallinan is an addiction medicine specialist, whose local pharmacy participates in the MedsASSIST programme of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia. Lesley Brydon is Chief Executive Officer of Pain Australia, a retired pharmacist, and lives with chronic pain. Caroline Diamantis has 30 years experience as a qualified pharmacist and will speak for the Pharmacy Guild of Australia. Darren Roberts is a clinical pharmacologist and toxicologist who works in addiction medicine, and will reflect on the TGA decision and its justification as published, how this relates to the literature, and illustrate an approach to regulatory decision-making for non-prescription medications. Milton Cohen is a rheumatologist and pain medicine specialist with extensive involvement in public health and policy issues.

Pre-reading: here are links to the TGA decision and financial modeling -
TGA Codeine re-scheduling regulation impact statment
TGA Publication Economic modelling and financial quantification regulatory impact proposed changes codeine scheduling

We aim to make these seminars as interactive as possible. Please email your suggestions to for cases and questions to Richard Hallinan at

Topics for later in the year (note Dates to be confirmed):

“New directions in treatment of opioid dependence.”

“Hepatitis C – how far have we got, and where from here?”

Venue: Scott Skirving Theatre, RPAH, Camperdown
Webinar: We regret that owing to logistical difficulties we will be unable to offer webinar participation for this occasion. Instead the seminar will be videotaped and made available on the University of Sydney Discipline of Addiction Medicine website

On the street parking is ticketed for $1.10 per hour from 6-10pm. There is limited free street parking around the area as well. The KGV car park is $5.00 per half hour up until 3 hours then a flat rate of $30.00.

6.30pm for introductions and refreshments, sessions starts at 7pm. No booking necessary, but to assist with catering please RSVP interest to or call Drug Health Services RPAH on 02 9515 6419

This seminar series attracts 2 points/hour for RACGP QA&CPD (activity number 715352). The seminars are kindly sponsored by Indivior, and Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Office of NSW Health.