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ANSM plans to "restrict access" to codein drugs

The Medicines Agency (ANSM) is considering ways to "restrict access" to drugs containing codeine, in the face of increased use diversions, especially among teenagers, said one of its leaders .

"We are thinking about the various legal levers" to "restrict too easy access to these drugs", following the reports of "use of these products by teenagers" for recreational use, AFP Nathalie Richard, deputy director of the ANSM pole responsible for analgesics and narcotics.

Codeine, a painkiller of the same family as opium, is now available over the counter in France in the form of cough syrups and tablets, if the dose does not exceed 30 mg per tablet.

One of the possible options could be to ban the delivery of these medicines without a prescription, but other levers are also envisaged, added Richard.

The mother of a young girl of 16 years old who died early May of an overdose of codeine, interrogated Friday by Le Parisien, launched a petition on the internet to ban the sale of this substance without prescription, which collected about 900 signatures in three weeks.

The ANSM, which received the first reports of use of this type of use in 2013, already alerted in March 2016 on a "sharp increase" of "suspicious delivery requests reported by pharmacy pharmacists but also cases of dependency Or abuse that may have led to hospitalization ".

The agency then warned against the "fashion" of "Purple Drank", a mixture of codeine cough syrup, promethazine (an antihistamine with sedative properties) and soda.

Other cases concern the diversion of tablets of painkillers combining paracetamol and codeine (Codoliprane, Klipal, Paderyl, etc.), easily accessible because of their low cost (2 to 3 euros per box).

Since the beginning of the year, the ANSM has received five reports of misuse of codeine in minors, two of which have resulted in deaths. But these figures are "not exhaustive", "it is very likely that there are other cases, not declared," said Richard.

In 2016, the agency had counted about fifteen reports, two of which required hospitalization.

The ANSM will launch in the coming months "a specific study on this phenomenon", with pediatric pharmacies and emergency services, which will provide "clarification on the typology" of these diverted uses and their "health consequences" , Explained Richard.

The agency also intends to renew the call for the vigilance of pharmacists who "may refuse a sale when they consider that the delivery of the medicinal product may have health consequences", and sensitize health professionals in contact with young people and teachers .

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