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Painkillers ‘costing millions’ to overburdened health service

The increasing misuse of over-the-counter painkillers is costing Australia’s public health system millions of dollars in hospital admissions for stomach, kidney and liver problems, according to University of South Australia research.

The five-year study is the first of its kind in Australia. It analysed the cost of around 100 hospital admissions in SA that were related to commonly available painkillers that contain codeine.

It found that a group of 30 patients, many who were readmitted several times for treatment, cost the taxpayer-funded public health system an average of $10,000 for each hospital stay. The total cost for treating this group over the five-year study period was around $1 million.

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