Pholcodine has been used in cough syrups and lozenges since the 1950s. Until 14th March 2023, you could buy them in the UK over the counter, or your doctor could prescribe them – although pholcodine was not recommended in young children due to the risk of side effects.
The evidence that pholcodine works to help soothe dry coughs is not very good. Home remedies like a hot drink with honey may be just as helpful.
On 14th March 2023, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) recommended that all medicines containing pholcodine should be withdrawn, due to the concerns over a link between pholcodine and risk of anaphylaxis to NMBAs.
Click here for a list of pholcodine-containing medicines that were available in the UK.