Medicines containing codeine to be issued only under prescription,Kenyan government says

Codeine cough syrup is one of the most abused drugs in Kenya especially by young people who chew miraa (khat)

Medicines containing codeine will not be sold without prescription to avoid overuse and addiction, Kenya's Pharmacy and Poisons Board announced on Tuesday.

In a statement addressed to all prescribers, dispensers and the general public, the board said all medicines containing the active pharmaceutical ingredient will no longer be sold in a pharmacy without a valid prescription from a duly registered medical practitioner.

"All medicines that contain codeine have bee reschedule from Pharmacy Only Medicines (P) to Prescription Only Medicine(P) in an effort to minimise the risk of overuse and addiction,"read part of the board's statement.

Valid prescriptions will contain among other things the Medical practitioner's name with their registration number from Medical Practitioners and Dentists' Board as well as the signature of the Medical practitioner handwritten using credible ink.

Market authorization holders have also been given six months to change packages of medicines containing codeine to include warnings on the label, summary product characteristics as well as patient information on the risk of addiction.

Codeine cough syrup one of the most abused drugs in the country especially by young people who chew miraa (khat) as they reckon it causes euphoria or makes the consumer drunk or 'high'.

The drug is also misused by being mixed with alcohol or soda as an intoxicating substance, according to experts.

According to the American Addiction Centre, cough syrups contain a mild opioid narcotic, making it a target of abuse for people seeking highs.

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