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The Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB), the trade association representing manufacturers of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and food supplements, welcomes the review of medicines misuse which has been conducted by the All Party Parliamentary Group on drug misuse.
The safe use of OTC medicines is of paramount concern to the industry and PAGB submitted written and oral evidence to the inquiry, including a PAGB commissioned independent review of all the available data.
Used correctly, medicines containing codeine are safe and effective. Combining codeine with paracetamol or ibuprofen produces stronger pain relief products – particularly useful for ailments such as back ache, dental pain and period pain.
The scale of dependency linked to OTC codeine products in the UK is unknown. Whilst virtually all researchers agree that misuse of OTC medicines is a small problem and that the vast majority of people use products safely and responsibly, much of the information available is anecdotal.
Sheila Kelly, chief executive of PAGB, comments on the report recommendations: “The industry takes its responsibilities seriously and will carefully consider the recommendations made in the report. PAGB will continue to work with, as it has done for many years, regulators, addiction charities and other stakeholders to discuss steps that can be taken to minimise the risk of codeine dependency without penalising the millions of people who use products safely and benefit from having access to an effective medicine.”
“A number of measures were already introduced in 2005, including a voluntary pack size reduction and the addition of addiction warnings on pack. PAGB is happy to discuss whether the warnings can be improved, but believes a further pack size reduction (to 18 tablets) would cause inconvenience and have no effect on addiction.”
“PAGB supports the recommendation for a government awareness campaign and believes this should involve pharmacists and pharmacy assistants as well as doctors.”
“The industry is against further restrictions on advertising as this is not the reason why people become addicted. In any case, there is very little advertising of products containing codeine.”