Non-Prescription Medicinal Products Containing Codeine: Guidance for Pharmacists on Safe Supply to Patients

The purpose of this guidance is to improve patient safety in the use of non-prescription medicinal products containing codeine by ensuring the safe supply of codeine medicines by pharmacists.

Image of front cover of PSI Guidance on Safe Supply of Codeine Products

This guidance aims to assist pharmacists in complying with legal and professional obligations when supplying non-prescription medicinal products containing codeine.

Key guidance points

  • Supply Conditions: Codeine medicines should only be supplied, when necessary, under a pharmacist’s supervision, and not for self-selection by the public.
  • Usage: If recommended, codeine medicines should be used for the shortest time possible and for no longer than three days without medical supervision
  • Patient Counselling: Pharmacists must counsel patients on the appropriate use, side effects, as well as the risks associated with overdose and/or prolonged use of codeine medicines.
  • Storage and Management: Codeine medicines must be stored out of public sight in an area of the pharmacy which is not accessible to the public for self-selection. The recommended location is in the dispensary under the pharmacist’s direct supervision.
  • Advertising Prohibition: Any form of advertising of codeine medicines to the public, including window displays and in-pharmacy promotions, is prohibited.

The HSE Helpline, freephone 1800 459459 provides a confidential support and information service to people seeking information or assistance with problems related to drug misuse, and also maintains a nationwide database of services.

pharmacy counter assistant helps customer
More information

Read about our 2022 Specialist Surveyor Report on Codeine