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RPS welcomes reclassification of codeine linctus

Professor Claire AndersonThe Royal Pharmaceutical Society welcomes the news that the MHRA has reclassified codeine linctus, a cough syrup for dry coughs containing the opioid painkiller codeine, from a Pharmacy (P) status medicine to a prescription-only medicine (POM) due to the risk of abuse, dependency and overdose.

This means it can only be provided on presentation of a prescription at a pharmacy, rather than being available over the counter on request.

Professor Claire Anderson, President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said:

"We welcome this decision from the medicines regulator to reclassify codeine linctus to a prescription-only medication as a positive step to protect patient safety.

“This decision not only addresses concerns about the misuse and addictive potential of codeine linctus but also underscores the importance of prioritising patient well-being.

“Many community pharmacists already no longer stock codeine linctus due to concerns about addiction and abuse. Those that do provide it often experience aggression from patients if they refuse a sale because in their clinical judgement, it’s not appropriate to supply the medicine.

“There are many alternative non-codeine-based products available to treat a dry cough. As the most accessible of healthcare professionals, community pharmacists and their teams will continue to provide expert advice on managing dry cough and guide people towards suitable treatments.”

Top tips for soothing a dry cough:

• Rest and drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated

• Have warm drinks or water with honey and lemon to soothe your throat

• Ask your pharmacist about cough medicines and cough sweets to help you cough less

• If your cough persists for longer than 3-4 weeks, ask your pharmacist or doctor for advice.

Read more RPS news stories

Read the MHRA’s Drug Safety Update about codeine.

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