Reclassification of Codeine Linctus to Prescription Only Medicine  – MHRA  consultation outcome

Following a consultation exercise, Codeine Linctus is to be reclassified to a prescription-only medicine when used to treat dry cough in adults. The reason for this “reverse switch” is due to the risk of abuse, dependency and overdose potential associated with the medicine.

The risk to benefit is often a very fine line and self-medication and availability of medicines to purchase, either directly or via a pharmacist, is carefully managed to ensure safety. On occasion, as here, there have been increasing reports of Codeine Linctus being misused as an ingredient in a recreational drink, commonly referred to as ‘Purple Drank’.  As Codeine Linctus is used in varying amounts in this drink, those drinking it will not be aware of how much they are taking, and this can have serious risks. The pharmacovigilance safety reporting system, Yellow Card,  indicated the medicine being abused, rather than for its intended indication as a cough suppressant.

MHRA were rightly concerned and launched a consultation exercise. The responses to that consultation identified the pressure pharmacists were under to provide the medicine to those suffering from addiction.

Quality support

This reclassification is one where the safety and well-being of the public is a necessity. It can still be obtained via a prescription as it is an effective medicine, however, the removal of it being a Pharmacy medicine available for purchase will help reduce the misuse and abuse potential currently being observed.

Read more – link to MHRA
James Hall