Health boards issue new rules on codeine syrups

Just three weeks ago, the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB), Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya (PSK) and Kenya Pharmaceutical Association (KPA), issued fresh guidelines in handling of cough syrups.   

The joint statement directed all licenced pharmacy practitioners dealing in codeine-containing syrups to issue them under Prescription Only Medicines (POMs), failure to which they would be subjected to strict legal action.

All licenced wholesalers and distributors were similarly expected to strictly adhere to Section 29 of the Pharmacy and Poisons Act CAP 244.

Pharmacy practitioners were also expected to maintain records in line with Section 30 and 31 of the Pharmacy and Poisons Act and provide, on demand, returns on the utilisation of codeine syrups

Punitive measures

“This communiqué applies to all authorised sellers of poisons including, but not limited to manufacturers, importers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers, clinics and hospitals,” read the statement.

“Kindly be advised that failure to comply with this notice will attract strict legal and administrative action,” it added.

The statement was signed by PPB Registrar Dr Fred Siyoi, PSK President, Dr Louis Somoni Machogu and KPA secretary general, Dorcas Too.

In January, PPB stopped the sale of medicines that contain codeine in an effort to minimise the risk of overuse and addiction.

Siyoi said that medicines with codeine will no longer be sold in a pharmacy or chemist without valid prescription from a duly registered medical practitioner.

All market authorisation holders were granted six months to change packages of medicines that contain codeine to include clear and prominently positioned warnings on the label.

The package is to bear summary product characteristics (SmPC) and patient information leaflet (PIL) about the risk of addiction and importance of not taking these medicines longer than three days.

“All medicines that contain codeine have been rescheduled from “pharmacy only medicine” to POM in an effort to minimise the risk of overuse and addiction,” said Siyoi.

All valid prescriptions should have details like patient’s name, address and age, medical practitioner’s name address and their registration number from the Medical Practitioners and Dentist board, medicine name strength and their dosage form.

They should also have quantity prescribed in words and the figures in brackets as well as signature of the medical practitioner handwritten using indelible ink.

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