Codeine cough syrup to be prescription-only

Codeine linctus is to be reclassified as a prescription-only medicine, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has announced. The move is the result of the medicine’s ‘risk of abuse, dependency and overdose’, it says. 

codeine cough syrupCodeine linctus is an opioid medicine used as an oral solution or syrup for treating dry coughs, and has previously been available to buy under the supervision of a pharmacist. Following a consultation with almost 100 healthcare professionals, patients and independent experts, however, it will now only be available on prescription after assessment by a medical professional. 

‘Patient safety is our top priority,’ said MHRA’s chief safety officer, Dr Alison Cave. ‘Codeine linctus is an effective medicine for long-term dry cough, but as it is an opioid its misuse and abuse can have major health consequences. We would like to thank all the patients, independent experts and health professionals who responded to our consultation. As a result, and taking into account the reports we have received in relation to abuse, we have reclassified codeine linctus to a prescription-only medicine for the benefit of patients, carers and healthcare professionals across the UK.’ 

A report from ACMD has also recommended that the non-opioid tranquiliser xylazine should be made a class C substance. While approved for use as a sedative, muscle relaxant and analgesic in veterinary medicine, xylazine is ‘increasingly being used illicitly by humans internationally and in the UK’, the report states. The drug is often combined with fentanyl in the US as ‘tranq’ or ‘tranq dope’, with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issuing an alert related to the increased prevalence of overdose deaths involving xylazine in 2022. 

Codeine linctus (codeine oral solutions): reclassification to prescription-only medicine at

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