There has been an increasing number of enforcement notices, served to pharmacies including Distance Selling Premises (DSP) pharmacies, by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). The GPhC have been investigating cases where there has been intelligence leading them to believe that pharmacies have been selling large quantities of codeine linctus to customers.
The World Health Organization reported 115,000 deaths related to opioid overdose in 2017, a proportion of these related to codeine-based products1.
The internet has popularised the use of concoctions known as Lean, Purple Drank or Sizzurp, which are made using the combination of codeine linctus, promethazine and a soft drink or hard candy to mask the taste. The ease of obtaining these pharmacy medicines has put pharmacies under increased pressure to balance making sales to genuine customers to manage their conditions against limiting excessive or repeated purchases of these medicines for illicit purposes.
The Numark Information Services team has produced two risk assessment templates that can be undertaken to assess the current governance and procedures in the pharmacy when making over the counter sales of medicines liable to abuse.
We have also produced a table of OTC medicines found in pharmacies which may be liable to misuse and abuse. This document may be used to make staff aware of the potential to abuse such medication and to be more cautious when making sales of these products.