UK Could Make Cough Syrup Prescription-Only

Cough syrup, or codeine linctus, may no longer be available over the counter in the United Kingdom due to concerns of addiction and overdose.

UK health agencies report an increasing number of fatalities from codeine medications and criminal activity of using codeine linctus to produce recreational drinks.

Codeine Linctus is an oral solution or syrup with the active ingredient codeine phosphate and is used to treat a dry cough. It is currently available to purchase over the counter in pharmacies. But soon, cough syrup prescriptions may be necessary.

Codeine is an opioid medicine, therefore, poses a potential risk of addiction. When consumed as a recreational drink, codeine linctus may lead to overdose, which can be fatal, according to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The regulator has launched a public consultation asking for the opinion of health professionals and members of the public on the reclassification of codeine.

The Commission on Human Medicines (CHM), the government’s independent expert scientific advisory body, has previously advised making cough syrup a prescription-only medicine.

In the United States, codeine placed in cough syrup is a Schedule III controlled substance, meaning it has low to moderate potential for abuse and/or addiction, and is available with a prescription.

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