The General Pharmaceutical Council has taken robust enforcement action against six separate pharmacies after they were found to be selling “unusually high volumes” of codeine linctus.

Codeine linctus is classified as a ‘P’ medicine under the Medicines Act 1968 and the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 which allows it to be sold only under a pharmacist’s supervision, by a pharmacy, without prescription.

The medicine, occasionally used for a dry cough, is high risk because of known problems associated with its misuse, abuse or overuse.

“In view of the quantity of codeine linctus that these pharmacies were buying, our inspection team undertook a series of unannounced inspections,” GPhC said in a statement on Friday (September 11).

The six offending pharmacies have all had conditions put on their registration that they “must not sell or supply any codeine linctus preparations” unless it’s included in an NHS prescription.

Claire Bryce-Smith, GPhC director of Insight, Intelligence and Inspection said: “Opioids are high-risk medicines. Most pharmacies have appropriate safeguards in place to prevent them being misused. We have taken robust action against six pharmacies that did not have these safeguards in place.

“We will continue to use the information we receive as intelligence to identify pharmacies supplying opioids inappropriately and will take necessary enforcement action against them in order to protect the general public and ensure they receive safe and effective care.”

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