Opioid medication in Australia and NZ is getting more expensive

The Australian government is launching a crackdown on the prescription of prescription opioids and other prescription painkillers in an attempt to curb a burgeoning opioid epidemic that has left more than 30,000 Australians and New Zealanders dead.

The government said on Monday it would impose restrictions on access to prescription opioids, including heroin and fentanyl, as well as heroin and methamphetamines, which can cause life-threatening respiratory problems.

The move comes after the death of a 15-year-old New Zealand girl who overdosed on an opioid-laced mix of heroin and morphine at a Sydney apartment.

The announcement comes amid warnings that a surge in the use of the powerful painkiller is eroding public trust in health systems and putting lives at risk.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) said the move was needed to prevent the “disease spreading to our communities”.

It said the AMA and the Medical Association of New Zealand (Mann) had agreed to work together to explore the use and restrictions on the use, importation and use of opioids.

“This is a response to the growing threat posed by the increasing use of opioid painkillers,” AMA spokesperson Simon Smith said.

“We also need to understand how we can best control the rise in the prevalence of opioid overdose, and ensure that the supply of opioids to Australians and other Australians who need them is maintained.”

Mann said it would continue to work with the government and stakeholders to develop recommendations.

“The AMA and Mann will continue to develop and support measures that will address this problem and protect the health and wellbeing of Australians,” it said.AAP/ABC