- codeine phosphate
POM: Prescription only medicine
This information is intended for use by health professionals
Co-codamol 30mg/500mg Tablets
Codeine Phosphate 30mg
For excipients, see 6.1.
Codeine is indicated in patients older than 12 years of age for the treatment of acute moderate pain which is not considered to be relieved by other analgesics such as paracetamol or ibuprofen (alone).
Prior to starting treatment with opioids, a discussion should be held with patients to put in place a strategy for ending treatment with co-codamol in order to minimise the risk of addiction and drug withdrawal syndrome (see section 4.4).
One to two tablets every four to six hours when necessary to a maximum of eight tablets per 24 hours.
The dosage should be reduced.
The dosage should be reduced.
Children aged 16 to 18 years:
One to two tablets every six hours when necessary to a maximum of eight tablets per 24 hours.
Children aged 12 to 15 years:
One tablet every six hours when necessary to a maximum of four tablets per 24 hours.
Children aged less than 12 years:
Codeine should not be used in children below the age of 12 years because of the risk of opioid toxicity due to the variable and unpredictable metabolism of codeine to morphine (see sections 4.3 and 4.4).
The duration of treatment should be limited to 3 days and if no effective pain relief is achieved the patients/carers should be advised to seek the views of a physician.
Dosage should be adjusted accordingly to the severity of the pain and the response of the patient. However, it should be kept in mind that tolerance to codeine can develop with continued use and that the incidence of untoward effects is dose related. Doses of codeine higher than 60 mg fail to give commensurate relief of pain but merely prolong analgesia and are associated with an appreciable increased incidence of undesirable side effects.
Method of administration
For oral use.
Known hypersensitivity to paracetamol or codeine, or other opioid analgesics, or to any of the excipients.
Acute respiratory depression.
Obstructive airways disease.
Severe hepatic dysfunction
Head injury or raised intracranial pressure (in addition to the risk of respiratory depression and increased intracranial pressure, may affect papillary and other responses vital for neurological assessment).
Where there is a risk of paralytic ileus.
In acute diarrhoeal conditions such as acute ulcerative colitis or antibiotic associated colitis (e.g. pseudomembranous colitis) or diarrhoea caused by poisoning.
In all paediatric patients (0-18 years of age) who undergo tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy for obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome due to an increased risk of developing serious and life-threatening adverse reactions (see section 4.4)
In women during breastfeeding (see section 4.6)
In patients for whom it is known they are CYP2D6 ultra-rapid metabolisers
Co-codamol 30mg/500mg Tablets may cause drowsiness. Co-codamol 30mg/500mg Tablets should be given in reduced doses or with caution to elderly patients or debilitated patients or patients with hypothyroidism, asthma, decreased respiratory reserve, adrenocortical insufficiency, prostatic hypertrophy, hypotension, shock, inflammatory or obstructive bowel disorders, urethral stricture, convulsive disorders, myasthenia gravis. It should be avoided or the dose reduced in patients with hepatic or renal impairment.
Avoid use during an acute asthma attack.
Codeine is metabolised by the liver enzyme CYP2D6 into morphine, its active metabolite. If a patient has a deficiency or is completely lacking this enzyme an adequate analgesic effect will not be obtained. Estimates indicate that up to 7% of the Caucasian population may have this deficiency. However, if the patient is an extensive or ultra-rapid metaboliser there is an increased risk of developing side effects of opioid toxicity even at commonly prescribed doses. These patients convert codeine into morphine rapidly resulting in higher than expected serum morphine levels.
General symptoms of opioid toxicity include confusion, somnolence, shallow breathing, small pupils, nausea, vomiting, constipation and lack of appetite. In severe cases this may include symptoms of circulatory and respiratory depression, which may be life-threatening and very rarely fatal.
Estimates of prevalence of ultra-rapid metabolisers in different populations are summarized below:
3.4% to 6.5%
1.2% to 2%
3.6% to 6.5%
Post-operative use in children
There have been reports in the published literature that codeine given post-operatively in children after tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy for obstructive sleep apnoea, led to rare, but life-threatening adverse events including death (see also section 4.3). All children received doses of codeine that were within the appropriate dose range; however there was evidence that these children were either ultra-rapid or extensive metabolisers in their ability to metabolise codeine to morphine.
Children with compromised respiratory function
Codeine is not recommended for use in children in whom respiratory function might be compromised including neuromuscular disorders, severe cardiac or respiratory conditions, upper respiratory or lung infections, multiple trauma or extensive surgical procedures. These factors may worsen symptoms of morphine toxicity.
Opioid analgesics should be avoided in patients with biliary tract disorders or used in conjunction with an antispasmodic.
Administration of pethidine and possibly other opioid analgesics to patients taking a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) has been associated with very severe and sometimes fatal reactions. If the use of codeine is considered essential then great care should be taken in patients taking MAOIs or within 14 days of stopping MAOIs (see section 4.5).
Caution should be exercised when using paracetamol prior to (less than 72 hours) or concurrently with intravenous busulfan (see section 4.5 Interactions).
Co-codamol 30mg/500mg Tablets enhance the effects of alcohol. Their concurrent use should be avoided.
The hazard of overdose is greater in those with non-cirrhotic alcoholic liver disease.
Patients should be advised that immediate medical advice should be sought in the event of an overdose, because of the risk of delayed, serious liver damage. They should be advised not to take other paracetamol-containing products concurrently and to keep the product out of the reach of children.
The risk-benefit of continued use should be assessed regularly by the prescriber.
Drug dependence, tolerance and potential for abuse
For all patients, prolonged use of this product may lead to drug dependence (addiction), even at therapeutic doses. The risks are increased in individuals with current or past history of substance misuse disorder (including alcohol misuse) or mental health disorder (e.g., major depression).
Additional support and monitoring may be necessary when prescribing for patients at risk of opioid misuse.
A comprehensive patient history should be taken to document concomitant medications, including over-the-counter medicines and medicines obtained on-line, and past and present medical and psychiatric conditions.
Patients may find that treatment is less effective with chronic use and express a need to increase the dose to obtain the same level of pain control as initially experienced. Patients may also supplement their treatment with additional pain relievers. These could be signs that the patient is developing tolerance. The risks of developing tolerance should be explained to the patient.
Overuse or misuse may result in overdose and/or death. It is important that patients only use medicines that are prescribed for them at the dose they have been prescribed and do not give this medicine to anyone else.
Patients should be closely monitored for signs of misuse, abuse, or addiction.
The clinical need for analgesic treatment should be reviewed regularly.
Drug withdrawal syndrome
Prior to starting treatment with any opioids, a discussion should be held with patients to put in place a withdrawal strategy for ending treatment with co-codamol.
Drug withdrawal syndrome may occur upon abrupt cessation of therapy or dose reduction. When a patient no longer requires therapy, it is advisable to taper the dose gradually to minimise symptoms of withdrawal. Tapering from a high dose may take weeks to months.
The opioid drug withdrawal syndrome is characterised by some or all of the following: restlessness, lacrimation, rhinorrhoea, yawning, perspiration, chills, myalgia, mydriasis and palpitations. Other symptoms may also develop including irritability, agitation, anxiety, hyperkinesia, tremor, weakness, insomnia, anorexia, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, increased blood pressure, increased respiratory rate or heart rate.
If women take this drug during pregnancy, there is a risk that their newborn infants will experience neonatal withdrawal syndrome.
Hyperalgesia may be diagnosed if the patient on long-term opioid therapy presents with increased pain.
This might be qualitatively and anatomically distinct from pain related to disease progression or to breakthrough pain resulting from development of opioid tolerance. Pain associated with hyperalgesia tends to be more diffuse than the pre-existing pain and less defined in quality. Symptoms of hyperalgesia may resolve with a reduction of opioid dose.
In high doses or with regular treatment, paracetamol may potentiate the effects of warfarin. The absorption of paracetamol is reduced by cholestyramine and accelerated by domperidone and metoclopramide.
Cytotoxic drugs: Paracetamol possibly inhibits metabolism of intravenous busulfan (manufacturer of intravenous busulfan advises caution within 72 hours of paracetamol).
Anaesthetics: concomitant administration of codeine and anaesthetics may cause increased CNS depression and/or respiratory depression and/or hypotension.
Antihistamines: concomitant administration of codeine and antihistamines with sedative properties may cause increased CNS depression and/or respiratory depression and/or hypotension.
Codeine antagonises the effect of metoclopramide and cisapride on gastrointestinal activity. It delays the absorption of flecainide and mexiletine and potentiates the effect of hypnotics and anxiolytics. The analgesic activity of codeine is likely to be significantly impaired by quinidine which impairs codeine metabolism.
Antidepressants: The depressant effects of opioid analgesics may be enhanced by tricyclic antidepressants. MAOIs taken with pethidine have been associated with severe CNS excitation or depression (including hypertension or hypotension). Although this has not been documented with codeine, it is possible that a similar interaction may occur and therefore the use of codeine should be avoided while the patient is taking MAOIs and for 2 weeks after MAOI discontinuation.
Antipsychotics: enhanced sedative and hypotensive effect.
Alcohol: the hypotensive, sedative and respiratory depressive effects of alcohol may be enhanced.
Concurrent use of codeine with antidiarrhoeal and antiperistaltic agents such as loperamide and kaolin may increase the risk of severe constipation.
Sodium oxybate: concomitant administration of codeine and sodium oxybate may cause increased CNS depression and/or respiratory depression and/or hypotension.
Concomitant use of antimuscarinics may lead to paralytic ileus or urinary retention.
Ulcer-healing drugs: Cimetidine may inhibit the metabolism of dihydrocodeine resulting in increased plasma concentrations.
Interference with laboratory tests: Opioids may interfere with gastric emptying studies as they delay gastric emptying and with hepatobiliary imaging using technetium Tc 99m disofenin as opioid treatment may cause constriction of the sphincter of Oddi and increase biliary tract pressure.
As with all medication, caution should be exercised during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester.
Regular use during pregnancy may cause drug dependence in the foetus, leading to withdrawal symptoms in the neonate.
If opioid use is required for a prolonged period in a pregnant woman, advise the patient of the risk of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome and ensure that appropriate treatment will be available.
Administration during labour may depress respiration in the neonate and an antidote for the child should be readily available.
A possible association with respiratory and cardiac malformations has been reported following first trimester exposure to codeine. Opioid analgesics may cause gastric stasis during labour, increasing the risk of inhalation pneumonia in the mother.
There is epidemiological evidence of safety in human pregnancy when paracetamol is used in normal stated dosages. A large amount of data on pregnant women indicate neither malformative, nor feto/neonatal toxicity. Epidemiological studies on neurodevelopment in children exposed to paracetamol in utero show inconclusive results. If clinically needed, paracetamol can be used during pregnancy however it should be used at the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time and at the lowest possible frequency.
Administration to nursing women is not recommended as codeine may be secreted in breast milk and may cause respiratory depression in the infant.
Paracetamol is excreted in breast milk but not in clinically significant quantities.
Codeine should not be used during breastfeeding (see section 4.3). At normal therapeutic doses, codeine and its active metabolite may be present in breast milk at very low doses and is unlikely to adversely affect the breast fed infant.
However, if the patient is an ultra-rapid metaboliser of CYP2D6, higher levels of the active metabolite, morphine, may be present in breast milk and on very rare occasions may result in symptoms of opioid toxicity in the infant, which may be fatal.
If symptoms of opioid toxicity develop in either the mother or the infant, then all codeine containing medicines should be stopped and alternative non-opioid analgesics prescribed. In severe cases consideration should be given to prescribing naloxone to reverse these effects.
Codeine produces sedation and may also cause changes in vision, including blurred or double vision. If affected, patients should not drive or operate machinery. The effects of alcohol are enhanced by opioid analgesics.
This medicine can impair cognitive function and can affect a patient's ability to drive safely. This class of medicine is in the list of drugs included in regulations under 5a of the Road of Traffic Act 1988. When prescribing this medicine, patients should be told:
• The medicine is likely to affect your ability to drive
• Do not drive until you know how the medicine affects you
• It is an offence to drive while under the influence of this medicine.
• However, you would not be committing an offence (called 'statutory defence') if:
o The medicine has been prescribed to treat a medical or dental problem and
o You have taken it according to the instructions given by the prescriber and in the information provided with the medicine and
o It was not affecting your ability to drive safely
Adverse effects of paracetamol are rare.
Haematological: There have been reports of blood dyscrasias including thrombocytopenia and agranulocytosis, but these were not necessarily causally related to paracetamol. Leucopenia, neutropenia and pancytopenia have been reported in association with paracetamol.
Immune system: Hypersensitivity including skin rash, urticaria or angioedema may occur. A small percentage of aspirin-sensitive asthmatics are also sensitive to paracetamol. In such cases, the deterioration in respiratory function induced by paracetamol is milder and shorter than with aspirin (see also 4.4 Special Warnings and Precautions for Use)
Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders: Very rare cases of serious skin reactions have been reported.
Renal and urinary disorders: Nephropathy has been associated with chronic high dose use.
The paracetamol component of Co-codamol 30mg/500mg Tablets is relatively free of side-effects but skin rashes and other allergic reactions may occur. Very rare cases of serious skin reactions have been reported. Renal damage may occur rarely with long term use. Haematological side-effects including thrombocytopenia, neutropenia, pancytopenia and leucopenia have occurred in isolated cases.
Regular prolonged use of codeine is known to lead to addiction and tolerance. Symptoms of restlessness and irritability may result when treatment is then stopped.
Prolonged use of a painkiller for headaches can make them worse.
Tolerance and some of the most common side effects – drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting, and confusion – generally develops with long term use.
Immune system disorders: maculopapular rash has been seen as part of a hypersensitivity syndrome associated with oral codeine phosphate; fever, splenomegaly and lymphadenopathy also occurred.
Endocrine disorders: hyperglycaemia.
Metabolism and nutrition disorders: anorexia.
Psychiatric disorders: mental depression, hallucinations and nightmares, restlessness, confusion, mood changes, euphoria, dysphoria, drug dependence (see section 4.4).
Nervous system disorders: dizziness, drowsiness, headache (prolonged use of a painkiller for headaches can make them worse), convulsions (especially in infants and children). Raised intracranial pressure may occur in some patients.
Eye disorders: miosis, blurred or double vision, other visual disturbances.
Ear and labyrinth disorders: vertigo
Cardiac disorders: orthostatic hypotension, palpitations, tachycardia and bradycardia.
Vascular disorders: postural hypotension, facial flushing. Large doses produce hypotension.
Respiratory, thoracic and mediastinal disorders: larger doses produce respiratory depression and dyspnoea.
Gastrointestinal disorders: nausea, vomiting, constipation, dry mouth, stomach cramps, pancreatitis.
Hepatobiliary disorders: Biliary spasm (may be associated with altered liver enzyme values).
Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders: allergic reactions such as urticaria, pruritis, skin rashes, sweating and facial oedema.
Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders: Uncontrolled muscle movements. Muscle rigidity may occur after high doses.
Renal and urinary disorders: difficulty with micturation, urinary retention, dysuria, ureteric spasm. An antidiuretic effect may also occur with codeine.
Reproductive system and breast disorders: sexual dysfunction, erectile dysfunction, decreased libido or decreased potency.
General disorders and administration site conditions : malaise, tiredness, hypothermia, drug withdrawal syndrome.
Reporting of suspected adverse reactions
Reporting suspected adverse reactions after authorisation of the medicinal product is important. It allows continued monitoring of the benefit/risk balance of the medicinal product. Healthcare professionals are asked to report any suspected adverse reactions via the Yellow Card Scheme at: www.mhra.gov.uk/yellowcard or search for MHRA Yellow Card in the Google Play or Apple App Store.
Patients should be informed of the signs and symptoms of overdose and to ensure that family and friends are also aware of these signs and to seek immediate medical help if they occur.
Liver damage is possible in adults who have taken 10g or more of paracetamol. Ingestion of 5g or more of paracetamol may lead to liver damage if the patient has risk factors (see below).
If the patient
a. Is on long term treatment with carbamazepine, phenobarbitone, phenytoin, primidone, rifampicin, St John's Wort or other drugs that induce liver enzymes.
b. Regularly consumes ethanol in excess of recommended amounts.
c. Is likely to be glutathione deplete e.g. eating disorders, cystic fibrosis, HIV infection, starvation, cachexia.
Symptoms of paracetamol overdose in the first 24 hours are sweating, pallor, nausea, vomiting, anorexia and abdominal pain. Liver damage may become apparent 12 to 48 hours after ingestion. Abnormalities of glucose metabolism and metabolic acidosis may occur. In severe poisoning, hepatic failure may progress to encephalopathy, haemorrhage, hypoglycaemia, hypotension, cerebral oedema, coma and death. Prothrombin time may increase with deteriorating liver function. Acute renal failure with acute tubular necrosis, strongly suggested by loin pain, haematuria and proteinuria, may develop even in the absence of severe liver damage. Cardiac arrythmias and pancreatitis have been reported. Liver damage is possible in adults who have taken 10 g or more of paracetamol. It is considered that excess quantities of a toxic metabolite (usually adequately detoxified by glutathione when normal doses of paracetamol are ingested), become irreversibly bound to liver tissue.
Immediate treatment is essential in the management of paracetamol overdose. Despite of lack of significant early symptoms, patients should be referred to hospital urgently for immediate medical attention and any patient who has ingested around 7.5 g or more of paracetamol in the proceeding 4 hours should undergo gastric lavage. Symptoms may be limited to nausea or vomiting and may not reflect the severity of overdose or the risk of organ damage. Management should be in accordance with established treatment guidelines, see BNF overdose section. Treatment with activated charcoal should be considered if the overdose has been taken within 1 hour. Plasma paracetamol concentration should be measured at 4 hours or later after ingestion (earlier concentrations are unreliable). Treatment with N-acetylcysteine may be used up to 24 hours after ingestion of paracetamol, however, the maximum protective effect is obtained up to 8 hours post ingestion. The effectiveness of the antidote declines sharply after this time. If required the patient should be given intravenous N-acetylcysteine in line with the established dosage schedule. If vomiting is not a problem, oral methionine may be a suitable alternative for remote areas, outside hospital. Management of patients who present with serious hepatic dysfunction beyond 24h from ingestion should be discussed with the NPIS or a liver unit.
An overdose with codeine is characterised by central nervous system depression, including respiratory depression, extreme somnolence progressing to stupor or coma, skeletal muscle flaccidity, cold and clammy skin.
Respiratory depression may develop but is unlikely to be severe unless other sedative agents have been co-ingested, including alcohol, or the overdose is very large. The triad of coma, pinpoint pupils and respiratory depression is considered indicative of opioid overdosage with dilation of the pupils occurring as hypoxia develops. Nausea and vomiting are common. Other opioid overdose symptoms include hypothermia, confusion, convulsions, severe dizziness, severe drowsiness, hypotension and tachycardia (possible but unlikely), nervousness or restlessness, excitement, hallucinations, bradycardia, hypotension, circulatory failure, slow or troubled breathing, severe weakness, convulsions, especially in infants and children. Rhabdomyolysis, progressing to renal failure, has been reported in overdosage with opioids. The effects in overdosage will be potentiated by simultaneous ingestion of alcohol and psychotropic drugs.
In severe overdose with codeine, apnoea, circulatory collapse, cardiac arrest and death may occur.
This should include general symptomatic and supportive measures, including a clear airway and monitoring of vital signs until stable. Consider activated charcoal if an adult presents within one hour of ingestion of more than 350mg or a child more than 5mg/kg. In acute overdosage with respiratory depression or coma, the specific opioid antagonist naloxone is indicated using one of the recommended dose regimens– repeated doses may be required in a seriously poisoned patient as naloxone is a competitive antagonist with a short half life. Patients should be observed closely for at least four hours after ingestion, or eight hours if a sustained release preparation has been taken.
Primary attention should be given to the re-establishment of adequate respiratory function through the provision of a patent airway and the institution of controlled ventilation. Oxygen, intravenous fluids, vasopressors and other supportive measures should be employed as indicated.
Pharmacotherapeutic group: Analgesics, ATC Code: N02B E51
Paracetamol has analgesic and antipyretic properties.
Codeine phosphate is an opioid analgesic.
Codeine is a centrally acting weak analgesic. Codeine exerts its effect through μ opioid receptors, although codeine has low affinity for these receptors, and its analgesic effect is due to its conversion to morphine. Codeine, particularly in combination with other analgesics such as paracetamol, has been shown to be effective in acute nociceptive pain.
Both paracetamol and codeine phosphate are readily absorbed from the gastro-intestinal tract giving peak plasma levels within one hour of administration.
Paracetamol is metabolised in the liver and excreted in the urine mainly as the glucuronide and sulphate conjugates. Less than 5% is excreted as unchanged paracetamol. The elimination half life varies from about one to four hours. At usual therapeutic concentrations plasma-protein binding is negligible.
Codeine is metabolised in the liver to morphine and norcodeine which are both excreted in the urine partly as conjugates with glucuronic acid. Most of the excretion products appear in the urine within six hours and up to 80% of the dose is excreted in 24 hours. About 70% of the dose is excreted as free codeine, 10% as free and conjugated morphine and a further 10% as free or conjugated norcodeine. Only traces are found in the faeces. The plasma half life is approximately three to four hours.
There are no preclinical data of relevance to the prescriber which are additional to those included in other sections. Conventional studies using the currently accepted standards for the evaluation of toxicity to reproduction and development are not available.
Pregelatinised Maize Starch
Do not store above 25°C.
Store in the original container.
28, 30, 56, 60, 84, 90 and 100 tablets in polypropylene/polyethylene containers or blister strips consisting of a 35gsm paper/9μ soft tempered aluminium foil lid and 250μ PVC film base in cartons.
Not all pack sizes may be marketed.
Wockhardt UK Ltd
Ash Road North