Gransnet forums


Dangerous medication?

(65 Posts)
Elrel Mon 06-Feb-17 00:34:34

I asked GP for something to prevent me coughing in a theatre. I was prescribed Pholcodine, a bottle of clear liquid. It came with no warning of side effects so I took it for 2 days. Then I googled and find it can have alarming long term effects. It is Class A in USA, Class B here. Norway banned it some years ago. It apparently can affect mortality rates under general anaesthesia for years. It went down the sink but I'm shaken not to have had any warning.
Does anyone have experience of it?

SueDonim Mon 06-Feb-17 01:03:38

In my experience, pholcodine linctus has pretty much no effect on a cough - a hot toddy is better! wink It's a very mild opiate, which suppress coughing and what makes it effective, so any side effects would be commensurate with that group of drugs. In all the years I worked in hospitals and pharmacies, I never heard of anyone having a bad reaction.

Iam64 Mon 06-Feb-17 09:11:26

Eirel - I don't know if you are amongst the group of us who take 'dangerous medication' on a regular basis. Reading the list of potential side effects stopped me taking the drug prescribed for PSA/inflammatory arthritis for several months when it was first prescribed in my early 40's. By the time I agreed to try it, it took me an hour to get out of bed in the morning and I could only get downstairs one step as a tortuous time. Four weeks later, I could do a 2 mile walk.
I'm now, sadly, taking all kinds of 'dangerous' stuff, without which I suspect I'd be in a real pickle
Don't worry!

Teetime Mon 06-Feb-17 09:11:31

I really don't think your GP would have prescribed you something he didn't think you should have or that would harm you. It was a wasted appointment really wasn't it?

M0nica Mon 06-Feb-17 09:21:51

In my 20s, over a couple of years,my GP three times prescribed a 'tonic' for me when I went to see him with gastritis.

It was some years later I discovered this 'tonic' contained phenobarbital and was highly addictive. On each occasion I was given a two week course and on each occasion it had no discernible affect on me. It certainly did nothing for my gastritis. I came to the conclusion that it was some type of placebo(!!!) given to palm off a patient who would be better off having a baby (his suggestion as a cure for my gastritis on one occasion).

Jane10 Mon 06-Feb-17 09:30:06

'Having a baby'!! Thank goodness the days of those sorts of doctor have long gone.

Auntieflo Mon 06-Feb-17 09:58:22

I have had this everlasting cough, since Christmas, luckily it is now nearly gone. During a bad bout, and wanting to get some sleep, I took a swig of my husband's, prescribed, Pholcodine. I didn't read the blurb, (Iknow, I know), anyway during the night I was woken by my heart going lickety split, with palpitations that would not subside. I ended up with the paramedics and a short visit to hospital. I was asked if I had done anything different, and taking the pholcodine was the only thing I could think of. I do take blood pressure tablets, so it is my own fault for not reading the warnings that are printed on the leaflet. I have hopefully learned my lesson, so please beware when taking these meds that can be bought over the counter.

hildajenniJ Mon 06-Feb-17 10:02:55

Please, never pour any medication down the sink!! Please take it back to the pharmacy where it will be disposed of without going into the waterways.

Elrel Mon 06-Feb-17 12:47:34

Hilda - you are of course quite right, I just reacted. I normally take unused medicines back to the pharmacy.
Auntieflo - scary! I was given mine with no leaflet, just the label saying quantity and frequency of dose.
Teetime - not wasted, I was checked for a possible chest infection as I had one last year which postponed surgery. That was the main reason for the appointment. I know too many people this winter who've had chest infections rapidly turn to pneumonia and hospitalise them.
Im64 - none of my regular medication is classed as dangerous. I was worried in case it could affect future general anaesthesia.

ania123 Mon 06-Feb-17 15:54:32

My doctor prescribed codeine to help me stop coughing at night. It worked very well but unfortunately caused horrendous constipation! Cure one ailment and create a new one.....

thatbags Mon 06-Feb-17 16:09:36

I think it would have been withdrawn if it was so very dangerous, elrel. All medicines have to have possible side effects listed. This doesn't mean all of them will be experienced, just that there exists a risk, usually a small one. I expect the risks are higher if the drug is taken over long periods, but it sounds as if you were only expecting to use it for one occasion.

You say it came with no warnings of side effects but it should have had a leaflet with it stating all known possible side effects. If it didn't it might be worth saying something about that to your pharmacist.

vampirequeen Mon 06-Feb-17 20:35:59

I've had pholcodeine on several occasions and been OK.

Ginny42 Mon 06-Feb-17 20:59:19

I find Ricola herbal throat sweets the best thing for a tickly cough in the theatre/cinema. It's a good idea to have a small bottle of water in your bag to sip to suppress a cough.

We should be mindful of the news item today that President Trump is planning to speed up the transition times from drug testing and research to them being available to the public. We import some drugs from the US and some are manufactured here under licence.

Auntieflo Mon 06-Feb-17 22:12:58

Eirel, the label on our bottle was a sort if double label. Apologies if this is not clear, but there was an almost invisible plastic bit that you lift and it revealed a pull out leaflet, giving information. But if I hadn't been looking carefully, it could easily be missed. I only found this out after reading this thread.

Deedaa Mon 06-Feb-17 22:20:41

When DH was first put on chemotherapy with all thassociated drugs I did start reading the leaflets. I found that a whole lot of them shouldn't be taken together but took it that treating the cancer was more important than any contraindications.

Nelliemoser Mon 06-Feb-17 22:23:24

Pholcodeine sounds really nasty.

Sparklefizz Tue 07-Feb-17 08:22:47

After surgery for breast cancer 20 years ago I was prescribed a drug to prevent it returning which gave me horrendous side effects including terrible bleeding and haemorrhages lasting weeks each time. This necessitated going into hospital for a hysteroscopy to see if anything was going on with my womb, but it was ok. I put up with the drugs for 6 months because I thought I had to. Eventually I complained to the consultant who changed me onto another drug. A year later I got my own computer and decided to check out the drug which had made me so ill, and discovered it should only be given to post-menopausal women. I was still having periods which had been made a million times worse by the drug, but the consultant had never even asked me that question, not even when I was haemorrhaging. He made assumptions and he was wrong. This is not the first time doctors have made mistakes with my health. We have to be responsible for ourselves and not assume that if we are prescribed something, it is the right thing for us. Thankfully we have much more access to information than was available 20 years ago.

Katek Tue 07-Feb-17 08:43:52

I entirely agree sparklefizz, I am possibly the bane of my GP's life. I ask many questions and am very reluctant to take new meds without full discussion. Sometimes, in the risk/benefit analysis, we may have to take drugs or a combination of drugs which may not be ideal and I understand this. I did object, however, when a locum GP handed me a prescription to treat an entirely new condition and said "take this". Er...not happening without full understanding on my part. Our GP practice has recently employed an inhouse pharmacist who will review ongoing medication and rationalise drug regimes if necessary. Great idea and frees up GP.

Sparklefizz Tue 07-Feb-17 08:55:51

I am like you katek and my GP knows where I'm coming from now, so we always discuss new meds and any treatment plan. He respects that I will use complementary medicine at times instead of taking drugs. What a great idea at your GP practice to employ an inhouse pharmacist. I'm sure that will save the NHS money in the long term as well as helping patients.

Elrel Tue 07-Feb-17 09:07:06

Auntieflo. I've scrabbled in the recycling and there's no label except the pharmacy one:
200ml Pholcodine SF strong 10mg/5ml linctus. Take ONE 5ml spoonful four times a day
That's all. Pharmacist is very helpful so I'll have a chat with him when I'm back home.

Ricola - good idea and I did sip from a water bottle in the theatre, helped a lot! Also someone sitting near me was also coughing occasionally!

Sparkle - horrendous for you, so sorry. I guess that's why, even though I'm over 70, I'm sometimes asked whether I could possibly be pregnant!! Best to be thorough!

Gagagran Tue 07-Feb-17 09:53:36

I have found to my cost that ibuprofen is dangerous for me. I was self-medicating with it last Autumn to ease the pains in my knees, neck and thumbs. I started with excruciating stomach pains in mid- November which developed and grew worse until I was diagnosed, after many tests including a gastroscopy, with gastritis as a result of taking and NSAID (ibuprofen). I am still suffering. I read the side-effects warnings but of course never thought they would apply to me. Do any of us?

Neversaydie Tue 07-Feb-17 10:00:40

I'm told a few drops of glycerine in hot water helps with a lingering cough (I am prone to them and will try out next time I get one )
You can now get Ibubrofen capsules with a coating that means they don't irritate your stomach in the same way

Marydoll Tue 07-Feb-17 10:01:40

I take quite a lot of "dangerous stuff" without it I would have no quality of life or even worse be dead by now. 40 years ago, I was just married and in ICU. My husband and mother were told I would probably not survive. Here I am, still going strong, ( well maybe not so strong grin) , thanks to the "dangerous stuff" . You have to weigh it all up.

Lewlew Tue 07-Feb-17 10:03:56

So the chemist dispensing it didn't explain anything about it? confused

I had whooping cough once when in the US got something called Hycodan which I think is similar. I had cracked two ribs from coughing.

I take codeine regularly, and pregabalin for my back. I have to juggle them because of the side effects (sleepiness and constipation).

So I take the pregabalin at night, and when I take codeine, I eat a big bowl of muesli and a salad with dinner. That helps along with lots of water. Then I can actually move! grin But noo driving on those days. confused

Sufjansgranny Tue 07-Feb-17 10:15:39

I had one of those nasty coughs recently and after all the lovely alternative stuff (drinks with lemon juice, turmeric, honey, black pepper etc. etc.) cautiously took one codeine pill given by DD. Took it with five prunes (can cause nasty constipation) but slept like a happy baby that night.