Clampdown on sales of codeine pills; Packets to carry addiction warnings.
Byline: NIGEL NELSON Political Editor
OVER-THE-COUNTER sales of strong painkiller codeine may be banned in a new addiction crackdown.
And packets of pills are to carry warnings about drug dependency. The move comes as Health Secretary Matt Hancock tries to stem growing numbers of people hooked on painkillers.
It means the likes of co-codamol would be prescription-only. The use of opioid painkillers such as morphine and fentanyl has risen more than 60 per cent in a decade.
In 2008, chemists dispensed 14 million packets -but last year that rose to 23 million. In that time codeine and other opioid-related deaths in England and Wales have more than doubled to 2,000. Mr Hancock said: "Painkillers must be treated with caution.We must act now. Some opioids can ruin lives like an illegal drug."
Chief Medical Officer for England Dame Sally Davies added: "Opioids abuse can cause life-changing dependency and even potentially fatal central nervous system or respiratory problems."
Public Health England is to report on adding more drugs to the prescriptiononly list. Packet addiction warnings will be enforced by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
The MHRA's Dr June Raine said: "This is an important first step to help minimise the risks of addiction associated with opioids."
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