Warning over cough syrup that leaves people high – as it faces ban from shelves

A COUGH syrup could be made prescription-only because of concerns people are using it to get high.

Codeine linctus — which can be bought for as little as £4.49 online — is being reviewed by the UK’s drug watchdog.

GettyA cough syrup that can be bought for as little as £4.49 online could be made prescription-only[/caption]

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said its consultation was launched after reports the drug “is being used recreationally for its opioid effects”.

Experts are concerned users could be at risk of deadly overdoses.

Dr Alison Cave, MHRA chief safety officer, said: “Codeine linctus is an effective medicine, but as it is an opioid, its misuse and abuse can have major health consequences.

“Every response received will help us to develop a broader view on whether codeine linctus should be restricted to prescription-only status.”

Codeine linctus is a medicine for dry coughs that can only be sold without a prescription from a pharmacy, under a pharmacist’s supervision.

However, concerns have been raised because of “unusually high sales” of the drug, which has been linked to misuse, abuse and overuse.

The General Pharmaceutical Council took action against 36 pharmacies from July 2020 to July 2021 for “not adequately identifying and managing the risks” of selling it.

The MHRA has also received a series of Yellow Card reports about the drug being used for fun.

Its review will take views from pharmacists and experts for four weeks until August 15, before a final decision will be made on whether to make the drug prescription-only.

Professor Claire Anderson, of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: “We welcome the MHRA consulting in this area.

“We believe there is insufficient robust evidence for the benefits of codeine linctus in treating coughs safely and appropriately. 

“We also have significant concerns about its misuse and addictive potential, as well as the risk of overdose.”

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