PAGB response to Daily Mail article on codeine addiction

Published on: 23 May 2018


In response to the Daily Mail article featuring the story of Helen White-Knight, who become dependent on codeine-based medicines for over 15 years, PAGB Chief Executive, John Smith, said:

“Over-the-counter (OTC) products containing codeine are appropriately safe and effective, if used in accordance with the instructions on the pack and patient information leaflet inside. These products can only be sold under the supervision of a pharmacist and carry prominent warnings about the risk of addiction on the front of pack. If people adhere to the warnings and instructions on the packs and do not take the product for more than three days, there is no risk of addiction.

“Safety is of paramount importance to the OTC medicines industry. There are a number of measures in place to help ensure the appropriately safe use of codeine products. These include:

“Products containing codeine are designed to provide symptomatic relief for people suffering from short term moderate pain that is not alleviated by paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin alone. Manufacturers of OTC medicines provide comprehensive accessible information to support people to make responsible informed decisions, in discussion with their pharmacist, about which painkiller is right for them.

“Anyone who has concerns about taking a medicine should speak to a pharmacist for advice. Pharmacists are highly trained healthcare professionals and can provide useful information and advice on over-the-counter medicines.”