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  • How to buy Melatonin in Australia

    Author: AAP

While melatonin pills are available in Australia, for most people you'll need a prescription from your doctor. Since 2021, a form of melatonin became available from pharmacies without a prescription, but only for people aged over 55.

The move to allow Melatonin to be sold over the counter in Australian pharmacies came following the approval of the nation's medicines regulator.

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Melatonin is a natural hormone released by the brain each night in response to darkness, helping to induce and maintain sleep.

When it gets dark, the body produces more melatonin helping you fall asleep. When it is light, the body produces less melatonin, preparing you to wake up. 

Unlike sleeping pills, melatonin shouldn’t make you feel sleepy the next day, is not addictive, and is unlikely to cause dependence. 

Why do you have to be over 55?

Leading pharmacist John Bell said people's natural supply of melatonin depleted  as they aged and could lead to poorer sleep.

"Melatonin is considered safe for short-term use," he said.

"In contrast to many sleep medications, with melatonin people are unlikely to become dependent, have a diminished response after repeated use (habituation), or experience a hangover effect."

Deloitte Access Economics in 2011 estimated the indirect cost of sleep disorders include $3.1 billion in lost productivity due to premature workforce separation, death, and absenteeism.

Seeking some extra shut-eye, melatonin prolonged-release tablet brand Circadin said some Australians have previously sourced the supplement from overseas to bypass the need for a prescription.

As former national president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, Mr Bell indicated purchasing unregulated melatonin products could compromise user safety.

"If the country of origin from which some Australians have been purchasing melatonin products does not have the same regulatory excellence as Australia, there is no way to check the products are safe, of a high quality and do what they are supposed to do," he said.

The new over-the-counter availability is only a short-term treatment for people over 55, and must be ticked off by a pharmacist.

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