October 8, 2010

Say Goodbye to Codeine

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- It might be painful but it's time to say good riddance to codeine as a pain reliever.

Codeine is used to relieve mild to moderate pain and it has been used for that purpose for more than 20 years. When it's used to treat pain, it works by changing the way the body senses pain. But because of its significant risks and ineffectiveness as an analgesic, physicians want to limit the use of the medication.

Codeine has never been subjected to the rigorous regulatory and safety requirements applied to all new medications and its side effects, especially in children can be dangerous due to genetic responses.

"Because the need for oral pain control is so pervasive, the potential risk associated with codeine must be mitigated," pediatricians Drs. Noni MacDonald, Section Editor, Public Health, CMAJ and Dr. Stuart MacLeod, University of British Columbia were quoted saying. "Perhaps a more direct approach is now needed: to stop using the prodrug codeine altogether and instead uses its active metabolite, morphine. Not only is the metabolism of morphine more predictable than that of codeine, but also it is cheaper."

SOURCE: CMAJ, October 2010