Government restricts sale of cough medicine over addiction

Government restricts sale of cough medicine over addiction

The Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) has restricted the sale of medicines that contain codeine to prescription only.

In a press statement released on Tuesday morning, the board has defended this move saying it is aimed at preventing overuse of codeine as well as addiction.

The statement from the office of the PPB Registrar, Dr. Fred M. Siyoi, says; “All medicines that contain codeine have been rescheduled from Pharmacy Only Medicines (P) to Prescription Only Medicine (POM) in an effort to
minimise the risk of overuse and addiction. In this regard, they will no longer be sold in a pharmacy or chemist without a valid prescription from a duly registered medical practitioner.”

The board further describes a valid prescription from a duly registered medical practitioner as one that contains details such as:

  • Patient’s name, address and age;
  • Medical Practitioner’s name, address, and their registration number from Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board;
  • Medicine name, strength and their dosage form;
  • Quantity prescribed in words and the figures in brackets;
  • Signature of the Medical Practitioner handwritten using indelible ink.

The statement from the board further adds that, “…all marketing authorization holders should make arrangements within the next six (6) months to change packages of medicines that contain codeine to include clear and prominently positioned warnings on the label (primary and secondary package), summary product characteristics (SmPC) and patient information leaflet (PIL) about the risk of addiction, and the importance of not taking these medicines for longer than three days.”

Codeine has been described as an “opiate that is used to treat mild to moderate degrees of pain.” It is mostly used in combination with such drugs as paracetamol, aspirin, or ibrupofen. Its side effects range from vomiting, constipation, itchiness, light-headedness, drowsiness, to breathing difficulties.

It is popular among American rappers such as Lil Wayne who is on record saying he takes cough syrup mixed with codeine. The rapper has been reported to have suffered multiple seizures during his performances due to an overdose of the combination.

A number of other American rappers are also reported to take a cocktail labeled ‘lean’, ‘purple drank’, or ‘sizzurp’ which is a combination of codeine, Sprite and such candy as Jolly Rancher.

An overdose of codeine was also reported to have played a part in the 2007 death of American rapper Pimp C.


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Story By Ian Omondi
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