Official hours: Poll results for the sale of codeine in pharmacies ‘very disturbing’, expert says

An opiate addiction expert described the findings of tonight’s Official Time investigation into the over-the-counter sale of codeine as “very disturbing”.

His medication, which is used as a mild pain reliever, is an opiate, and “safety concerns surrounding the abuse of over-the-counter drug products containing codeine have been well established.” ” according to the guidelines for pharmacists issued by the regulator, the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI).

It warns that “consumption of quantities of these drugs in excess of the recommended doses, or over a long period of time, can cause tolerance and dependence, as well as the risk of other side effects”.

“Patients should be fully counseled on the correct use of these products and the risks associated with their misuse,” it said.

Even so, a Main time The undercover group visited 18 pharmacies across three counties and found that “no one followed all of the guidelines surrounding the sale of over-the-counter codeine.”

The team purchased 408 pills over three days at the pharmacies visited.

Dr Michelle Foley, from the School of Health Sciences at Southeast Waterford University of Technology, said the footage shown to her from the show was “very disturbing”. She said she was “absolutely not confident that the guidelines are being followed”.

“Codeine is an opioid medication used to treat mild to moderate pain. It can also be used in the treatment of cough. Its addictive ability is quite strong. It is an addictive drug because it belongs to the same class of opioids, such as heroin. So it’s very addictive,” she said.

Dr Foley, who has conducted extensive international research into codeine abuse and addiction, notes that the number of people receiving treatment for problematic codeine use in Ireland has increased by 47 per cent over the past decade.

“There needs to be more regulation in pharmacies if they continue to sell this product over the counter,” she said.

As of August 2010, PSI has stated that all pharmacists must fully comply with the agency’s guidance on the safe delivery of codeine drugs such as Solpadine, Nurofen Plus and Feminax.

“Since then, pharmacists are required to directly supervise drug sales; ask the client to assess whether it is the most appropriate treatment; and asked if they had tried an alternative codeine-free pain reliever,” according to Main time.

Video of the day

“Pharmacists also aim to warn customers that codeine combined with paracetamol or ibuprofen has the potential to be harmful in excessive amounts or if used for long periods of time. Customers should be advised not to take it for longer than three days. “

“The three-day warning is really important because if the pain doesn’t resolve within those three days, then the person really needs to see a GP,” says Dr Foley.

However, only 12 of the pharmacies are visited Main time issued a three-day warning, most didn’t explain why it was important to stick to this. In fact, only one pharmacy told an undercover reporter that codeine was addictive.

Three of the 18 pharmacies did not issue a three-day warning at all, and the other three said it was for “short-term” use only, but did not specify how long.

At a pharmacy, the only advice given is to take two tablets up to three times a day, preferably after meals. Two hours later, an RTÉ reporter returned to the same pharmacy slightly changed their look and was sold a second box of Nurofen Plus at a follow-up visit – with no questions or advice given.

After seeing footage from all 18 pharmacies, Dr Foley said: “Some pharmacies have tried to follow these guidelines, but none of the pharmacies we saw in the footage really hit the mark. Tick ​​all the boxes regarding instructions that have been provided to them from the governing body. “

The Medical Director of Smarmore Castle Private Clinic, Dr Hugh Gallagher, told Main time: “The problem of codeine dependence is a significant concern for me, and I regularly treat people with this problem.

“What you see is that they will go through a large area, go to many pharmacies and determine which pharmacy is probably most likely to get them from the story they need to tell to get them but the problem is that it starts to dominate their whole life”.

The Main time investigation Caution, Contains Codeine airs on RTÉ One tonight at 9.35pm. Official hours: Poll results for the sale of codeine in pharmacies ‘very disturbing’, expert says

Fry Electronics Team

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