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Regulator warns of codeine dangers

A medical regulator has warned people of the dangers of becoming addicted to over-the-counter medicines containing codeine.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued guidelines on medicines containing codeine and dihydrocodeine, warning that patients could overuse them or risk becoming addicted.

The MHRA said the medicines should not be taken for longer than three days at a time, while labels and accompanying patient information leaflets must have clear and "prominently positioned" warnings.

Large packs of products containing effervescent codeine will be available on prescription from a doctor, but will no longer be sold in the pharmacy.

Dr June Raine, MHRA director of vigilance and risk management of medicines, said codeine and dihydrocodeine were safe and effective medicines if taken correctly.

She said: "However, these products can be addictive and we are taking action to tackle this risk.

"The MHRA is ensuring that people have clear information on codeine-containing medicines, on what they are to be used for and how to minimise the risk of addiction."

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