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New measures to combat codeine misuse in South Africa

Neelam Rahim |

3-minute read
09 May 2024 | 08:38 CAT

Codeine-containing cough syrup. (Photo: Appaloosa/Flickr)

Amid rising concerns over codeine abuse, found in certain pain relief medicines and cough mixtures and frequently taken by thousands of school children and youngsters to get “high”. South African health authorities are rolling out new guidelines to address the problem. Health journalist Jesse Copelyn, a health journalist with Bhekisisa Health, delved into this issue, exploring the reasons behind codeine addiction and how the proposed initiatives aim to tackle the issue head-on.

In an interview with Radio Islam International, Copelyn highlighted why codeine abuse has become a significant concern in South Africa, particularly among youth. 

Codeine is an opioid drug found in certain pain relief medicines and cough mixtures.

“One of the things that makes it very popular among young people, popularly known in South Africa as lean, where kids mix codeine-based cough syrups with cooldrinks and are able to drink lots of it. Lean popularity can be attributed to the cheap price and accessibility,” he says. 

Copelyn explains that there are health implications attached to the prolonged use of codeine. 

“There are all sorts of gastrointestinal issues that you can gain over time from the continuous use of codeine and that includes everything from constipation, peptic ulcers and it can also damage the liver,” he added. 

Copelyn pointed out that it is dangerous and worrying for younger children to use codeine for prolonged periods. Large amounts of codeine consumption can ki.

Large amounts of codeine consumption can lead to overdose, which can kill you. 

It’s for this reason that health professionals have long been looking for ways to stem the abuse of codeine, which is found in both prescription and over-the-counter medicines in South Africa.

The SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAPHRA) communications officer, Nthabi Moloi, said the problem was “of grave concern”.

In response, and in efforts to stem the abuse, the regulatory body is now drafting new guidelines on the drug, which will be available for public comment in June, writes Jesse Copelyn in Spotlight.

Listen to the full interview on The Daily Round-Up with Moulana Junaid Kharsany.


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