Prescribing Advice for GPs

An NHS Prescribing Advisers' Blog

OTC analgesic advice

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has issued a press release (PDF) regarding new restrictions and package warnings for over the counter (OTC) analgesics that contain codeine or dihydrocodeine.

Packages and information leaflets will be revised to warn consumers about the risk of addiction and guidance on the use of these products will focus on treating moderate pain that is not relieved by simple painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen.

Additionally, pharmacies will no longer be able to sell large packs of effervescent codeine-containing analgesics containing more than 32 tablets. Packs containing more than 32 tablets will become prescription only medicines (POMs). This step builds upon pack size restrictions introduced in 2005 that affected non-effervescent analgesics containing paracetamol.

Action: Clinicians should be aware of these new restrictions. Patients may request these analgesics on prescription to ease access to quantities greater than 32 tablets.

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