Packs of over the counter medicines containing codeine and dihydrocodeine are to carry new warnings about the risk of addiction, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced today.
As part of a new package of measures designed to minimise the risk of overuse and addiction, the medicine packs and patient information leaflets will also carry clear warnings about the importance of not using the medicines for more than three days.
Revised guidance on the use of these products will state that they should only be used to treat moderate, acute pain that is not relieved by simple pain killers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen.
Indications that they can be used to treat colds, flu, coughs and sore throats will be removed, the agency said, and packs containing more than 32 tablets will no longer be sold over the counter but will only be available on prescription.
MHRA director of vigilance and risk management of medicines, Dr June Raine, said: “The MHRA is ensuring that people have clear information on codeine containing medicines, on what they are to be used for and how to minimise the risk of addiction. These products can be addictive and we are taking action to tackle this risk.”