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Codeine

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Many thousands of people are addicted to so-called 'safe' over-the-counter drugs such as simple painkillers

Many thousands of people are addicted to so-called 'safe' over-the-counter drugs such as simple painkillers.

A major culprit seems to be codeine phosphate, a controlled substance that is, nevertheless, freely available as an ingredient in other popular over-the-counter preparations such as aspirin, paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Codeine phosphate is derived from either opium or morphine and, inmost countries, including the UK, it is available only by prescription.

Although it's not certain how many people are actually abusing codeine-containing drugs, one Web service is helping 4000 people who admit to being addicted to Solpadeine, which combines codeine with paracetamol (BMJ, 2007; 334: 917-8).


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