Irish Journal of Medical Science (1971 -)

, Volume 186, Issue 3, pp 555–563 | Cite as

Medicines containing codeine: perspectives of medical professionals in the Republic of Ireland

  • M. FoleyEmail author
  • T. Carney
  • R. Harris
  • E. Fitzpatrick
  • A. Rapca-Veillet
  • M. C. Van Hout
Original Article



The aim of the study was to examine prescribing professional’s perceptions on prescribed and OTC medicines, containing codeine in the Republic of Ireland. A secondary aim was to examine perceptions on codeine dependence, screening and treatment.


A cross-sectional study of a nationally representative group of prescribing professionals was conducted using a questionnaire containing a number of open and closed ended items. Data were analysed using SPSS version 21 and content analysis techniques.


398 medical professionals participated in the study giving a response rate of 18%. 77% of respondents agreed to routinely review patient prescribed codeine. 59% of respondents routinely asked patients about their use of OTC medicines and 50% documented use of OTC codeine in their patients’ medical notes. 93% indicated concern about the potential to purchase codeine from multiple sources. 88% implied that patients did not fully understand the risks of taking OTC medicine containing codeine. Only 21% of respondents were confident in identifying codeine dependence without being informed by the patient and 11.4% agreed to have suitable screening methods in practice. 76% indicated that they would like more instruction on prescribing addictive medicines.


Policy should examine the need for greater public health awareness on codeine use and should examine the role of OTC and internet sales in the development of dependence. Further consideration should be given to training and support for those who prescribe addictive medicines in practice.


Codeine Over the counter Prescribing Addiction Misuse Primary care Nurse prescribing 



We wish to acknowledge the CODEMISUSED research team and their participation in the collection of data used in this research.

Compliance with ethical standards


The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community’s Sevent Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013 under Grant agreement no 611736.

Conflict of interest


Ethical approval

Ethical Approval was granted by Waterford Institute of Technology Research Ethics Committee. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Foley
    • 1
    Email author
  • T. Carney
    • 2
  • R. Harris
    • 3
  • E. Fitzpatrick
    • 1
  • A. Rapca-Veillet
    • 3
  • M. C. Van Hout
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Health ScienceWaterford Institute of TechnologyWaterfordIreland
  2. 2.Tobacco and Other Drug Research UnitSouth African Medical Research CouncilCape TownSouth Africa
  3. 3.Weldricks PharmacyDoncasterUK

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