Codeine phosphate is a mild to moderate analgesic and has a weak cough suppressant activity that is available to purchase as an over the counter (OTC) painkiller in Ireland as a compound product. In recent years, countries such as Australia have introduced laws that prohibit the sale of the drug without a valid prescription. This move by Australia begs the question as to why this legislation was introduced and should Ireland follow suit.
The primary aims of the study were to determine knowledge among the general public of codeine-containing medications and their usage levels. The survey also investigated whether current regulations and recommendations are being followed in Ireland. The survey was distributed to 543 Irish adults using an online platform in February 2020. Only 47.2% (n=256) of those surveyed were able to correctly identify a codeine-containing medicine from a list provided. These individuals then formed the basis of the results of this survey.
Analysis of the results obtained from the study revealed that only 8.6% of the surveyed population were unaware of the potentially addictive nature of the drug. This finding suggests that this common side-effect is well-known within the population who can correctly identify a codeine-containing medicine.
Consumers were more likely to be questioned and sold an over the counter (OTC) codeine-containing medicine under the supervision of a member of pharmacy staff rather than the pharmacist (73%) which is not compliant with Irish Law. This may pose a potential danger to patient safety.
The examination of the populations' opinion on whether the drug should remain an OTC medicine or introduce changes in regulation that would make the drug a prescription-only item the population is closely split. Forty-seven percent (47%) of those asked believed that the medicine should remain OTC, while 53% would be of the opposing opinion.
In conclusion, the data obtained from this survey would largely suggest that common side-effects of codeine are widely known amongst the population. The current regulations and recommendations on the sale of codeine are not usually being complied with and the majority of the population believe codeine-containing medications should remain OTC.
O'Brien, Katie; McKeown, Pádraig; and Phelan, Joseph
"A snapshot investigation into the availability and access to codeine-containing medications amongst the Irish population.,"
International Undergraduate Journal of Health Sciences: Vol. 1:
2, Article 6.
Available at: https://sword.cit.ie/iujhs/vol1/iss2/6