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Codeine linctus sales behind increase in pharmacy enforcement notices

There has been an increase in the number of enforcement notices served to pharmacies, with the majority concerning the “high purchase numbers of codeine linctus”, the GPhC said.

A total of 21 of the 27 enforcement notices issued from October-December 2020 related to “a lack of governance and risk management around the sale of over-the-counter medicines, including codeine linctus and promethazine preparations”, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) said in papers published ahead of its meeting this week (February 11).

This is compared to the 11 enforcement notices served in the previous quarter, 10 of which also concerned the “lack of governance and risk management around the sale and supply of codeine linctus preparations”.

The enforcement notices – which can include an “improvement notice” or a set of conditions that pharmacies have to meet before they are able to resume their normal dispensing activity – were served following the GPhC’s “intelligence-led inspections”.

Raising awareness

In its council meeting documents, the GPhC said it “raised awareness of the issues and insights we found with the sector through stakeholder webinars”.

It also held an event “in one area of the country where a number of cases had arisen, working collaboratively with the local pharmaceutical committee (LPC)”, the regulator added.

A GPhC spokesperson told C+D today (February 10) that is “continues to work with LPCs to raise awareness about this important issue to ensure that pharmacy services are provided safely and that proper safeguards are in place for the supply of higher risk medicines”.

Last year, the GPhC placed conditions on the registration of six pharmacies after it discovered they were buying “unusually high” volumes of codeine linctus.

Pharmacists can sell codeine linctus without prescription, as it is classified as a P medicine under the Medicines Act 1968 and the Human Medicines Regulations 2012.

However, the medicine is considered high risk because it is known to have been misused, abused or overused, the GPhC warned at the time.

What do you make of the GPhC's action?

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