Why I removed OTC codeine from public view in my pharmacy


In response to the following article:


GPhC sanction six pharmacies over ‘high volume’ codeine sales


Dear PIP editor,


I believe the amount of codeine in over the counter products is too small to have a good analgesic effect but high enough to quickly cause addiction.


I also think that it is currently difficult to monitor properly as many pharmacies are inadequately staffed and staff are pushed to their limits with very little time.


Codeine supply over the counter is so difficult to monitor and customers know what to say. By the time we notice that there is a pattern of regular purchasing, the patient is likely to have been abusing them for a long time.


I have now removed Nurofen Plus and Co-codamol from public view. I want to do what I can to reduce the problem of over the counter codeine abuse.


I noticed that this story mentioned the sale of codeine linctus for cough. I think 15mg of codeine in 5ml of cough syrup is a lot of opiate.


I don’t sell it.


I am afraid to say that over the counter opiate abuse is very real in the UK. I believe it is something that we see every day which is why I removed the most commonly requested products from sight.


I think everyone in community pharmacy needs to work collaboratively towards a solution to this problem.


Yours etc.




This pharmacist wished to remain anonymous.


The PIP team would love to know your views on over the counter opiates. Answer the questions below and with your permission, we will publish your response to this story as a letter to the editor.






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