Maxigesic Hits No. 1 In Key Australian Painkiller Market

The codeine-free painkiller Maxigesic is now the largest selling Paracetamol-Ibuprofen combination painkiller in Australian pharmacies.

Weekly sales data from IRi (Australia) for the post 1 February codeine rescheduling time periods of 5th -18th February shows Maxigesic sales now ahead of all other Paracetamol-Ibuprofen products at Australian pharmacies.1

The rise of Maxigesic comes on the back of the decision by the Therapeutic Goods Association to up-schedule codeine-based painkillers from an over-the-counter (OTC) product to prescription-only. The change commenced on 1 February 2018.

Managing Director of AFT Pharmaceuticals, Dr Hartley Atkinson, says that the result is pleasing for the company.

“We’re delighted that we’ve reached the number one position for Paracetamol-Ibuprofen combinations in the pharmacy market,” says Dr Atkinson. “Maxigesic has always been codeine-free. So we’ve been talking with pharmacists about Maxigesic as an alternative painkiller well ahead of the February switching date.”

“It also looks like our switching campaign has been a success with patients. The key message has been that Maxigesic is the only Paracetamol-Ibuprofen combination which, at full dose, provides better pain relief than either OTC Paracetamol or Ibuprofen alone.2 The sales data suggests that this message has resonated with lots of people who are now looking for  a codeine-free painkiller.”

Maxigesic has seen especially strong sales of the larger Schedule 3 Maxigesic 30’s packs.3 Dr Atkinson notes that this is significant because it means that it is pharmacists themselves who are recommending Maxigesic to patients.

“The 30 packs require pharmacist approval and they’re kept behind-the-counter,” says Dr Atkinson. “For us to lead this category is encouraging because there are some heavily promoted brands we’re competing against and our result has been achieved with a much lower promotional budget than some of our competition. Pharmacists clearly have confidence in Maxigesic.”

Dosage is also likely to be helping sales. Maxigesic is the only combination analgesic that can provide the maximum daily OTC dosage of Paracetamol (4000mg) and Ibuprofen (1200mg).4 Consequently patients who require the maximum daily dosage can use more tablets than competitor Paracetamol-Ibuprofen product equivalents, thereby generating higher sales for pharmacies.

While sales of Maxigesic in Australia have roughly doubled in a short time period since the beginning of this year, Dr Atkinson suggests these are early days in the post-OTC codeine market.

“Anecdotally, we know there are people who stockpiled codeine-based painkillers before the switching date. As those supplies run out, they will be coming into pharmacies to find an alternative painkiller. So while the early signs are positive for us, there is still a bit of settling to happen in the market long-term and lots of work for our team to tackle in the Australian market over the remainder of this year.”

1. IRi (Australia) “Paracetamol and Ibuprofen Brands Weekly Sales” – current 18 February 2018.

2.  Merry, A. F., Gibbs, R. D., Edwards, J., Ting, G. S., Frampton, C., Davies, E. and Anderson, B. J. (2010). “Combined acetaminophen and ibuprofen for pain relief after oral surgery in adults: a randomized controlled trial” British Journal of Anaesthesia 104(1): 80–88.

3. Schedule 3 medicines can only be supplied from a pharmacy by or under direction of a pharmacist, and must be stored in an area of the pharmacy that is not accessible to the public.

4. Two tablets of Maxigesic taken every 6 hours over a 24-hour period (8 tablets maximum) whereas the dose of other Paracetamol-Ibuprofen combinations is take one tablet every 8 hours over a 24-hour period (3 tablets maximum).