UK – Pholcodine-containing cough and cold medicines: withdrawal from UK market as a precautionary measure

Advice for healthcare professionals regarding the withdrawal of pholcodine-containing medicines from the market.

  • Pholcodine-containing cough and cold medicines are being withdrawn from the UK market as a precaution following a review which found that their benefits do not outweigh the increased risk of the very rare event of anaphylaxis to neuromuscular blocking agents (NMBAs) used in general anaesthesia
  • Ask patients scheduled to undergo general anaesthesia involving NMBAs whether they have used pholcodine-containing medicines, particularly in the past 12 months, and maintain awareness about the potential for perianaesthetic anaphylaxis related to NMBAs
  • Do not dispense or sell pholcodine-containing medicines – consider recommending appropriate treatment alternatives for patients who present with a new dry cough or who are currently taking pholcodine…