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Can you buy co-codamol over-the-counter?

7th September 2022

Over-the-counter medications are specific medications and treatments that you can purchase without needing a prescription. There are many different types of over-the-counter medications that can treat a wide variety of conditions. One of the most commonly asked questions is whether or not co-codamol is an over-the-counter medication. In this article, we will answer the question of whether you can buy co-codamol over the counter, as well as this we will answer many more questions regarding the medication, the conditions it is used to treat, and where you can actually purchase your medication when you have all of the information you need. 

Man holding his back

What is co-codamol?

Co-codamol is a mixture of two medications, codeine and paracetamol. Both codeine and paracetamol are most commonly used to treat pain, however, they do not treat the same kind of pain. The most common use of paracetamol is for treating mild to moderate pain, much like that which is experienced due to headaches, stomach aches, or period pain. Codeine however is a pain reliever that is used for moderate to severe pain. Codeine itself is a prescription-only medication, and it is often prescribed for pain experienced after surgery, or after a serious injury. 

Co-codamol is a combination of these two medications. Co-codamol has a few side effects that some people may experience when they take it. The most common side effects of co-codamol are nausea, constipation, and tiredness. There are also some more uncommon, more serious side effects that people may experience. Some of the more uncommon side effects that people may experience when they take co-codamol include skin rashing, difficulty urinating, blurred vision, or dizziness. If you experience any of these side effects you should contact your doctor for further advice. 

What is co-codamol used for?

Co-codamol, the mixture of codeine and paracetamol, is used to treat moderate pain and aches. Some of the most common ailments that co-codamol is used to treat include muscular pain, migraines, headaches, and toothache. The pain that co-codamol is used to treat is often mild to moderate, however, the ingredient codeine is used to treat moderate to severe pain. This means that co-codamol is often used to treat pain that will not be effectively treated using paracetamol alone. 

Both paracetamol and codeine work in a similar way. They block pain receptors from reaching the brain. Codeine however is different to paracetamol as it is an opioid medication. Opioid medications, also known as opiates, work by attaching themselves to opiate receptors in the central nervous system. Opiates will block signals of pain, and will also release chemicals in the brain that will signal a better mood. Opiates can however become addictive due to this. Co-codamol may be addictive, and it has been known to cause reliance. Often, you will only be given co-codamol for a short period of time. This is to reduce the risk of addiction, as prolonged use will make it much harder for you to stop taking it. If you require co-codamol for extended periods of time, say a few weeks, you will usually be given a plan in order to help you come off of the medication when you are finished with your course. 

Can you buy co-codamol over the counter?

There are two different types of medication, over-the-counter medications and prescription-only medications. Some over-the-counter medications can be purchased almost anywhere, and are usually used to treat mild conditions. Prescription-only medications on the other hand are treatments that cannot be purchased without having a valid prescription. You are able to buy the lowest strength of co-codamol over the counter from a pharmacy. The lowest strength of co-codamol is 8/500. 8/500 means that each tablet or capsule will contain 8mg of codeine and 500mg of paracetamol. 

Do I need a prescription to buy co-codamol?

Most commonly the co-codamol that you will need to use to ease pain will be prescription-only. The higher-strength co-codamol that is prescribed is the most effective form of treatment of moderate to severe pain, and can only be purchased after you have attained a prescription from a doctor or an independent prescriber. The strength of co-codamol that you can purchase online from EU Meds is 30/500. This means that each tablet contains 30mg of codeine and 500mg of paracetamol, making it much more effective than the over-the-counter alternative which only contains 8mg of codeine. 

What over-the-counter medications also contain co-codamol?

Some other medications can actually contain both codeine and paracetamol, and some of these medications will actually be sold over the counter. Some of the medications that include either paracetamol or codeine include:

  • Migraleve
  • Nurofen Plus
  • Syndol
  • Alka-Seltzer (this one is Aspirin based)
  • Anadin Extra (this one is Aspirin, Paracetamol and Caffeine)
  • Beechams All-in-One (this one is Paracetamol, Phenyleprine and Guafenicin)
  • Many cold and flu tablets

Many of these medications can be brought over the counter as they will not contain high amounts of codeine. Usually, the more codeine that is in a medication, the higher the chances of it being a prescription-only medication. 

Where can I buy co-codamol online?

In order to purchase co-codamol online from EU Meds you can either use an existing prescription, or you can complete an online consultation with us. After a successful consultation you will be given a prescription and you will be able to purchase the medication that you require.

Sources

https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/files/pil.4024.pdf

https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/co-codamol-adults/

https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-in-general/treatment/cancer-drugs/drugs/co-codamol

https://bnf.nice.org.uk/drugs/co-codamol/

https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/medical/drug-cabinet/painkillers/over-the-counter-pain-relief