Over the Counter Medicine

Opiate type: These OTC medicines contain opiate – like substances. They are designed to suppress the coughing reflex or reduce pain. Some drug users will buy these drugs to help with withdrawal, while others will use them to supplement the effects of illicit drugs. Some of these preparations are made from a syrupy base, so injection is unlikely. A danger that remains is the injection of powder or tablet formulations. Usually these are a combination of codeine and aspirin/paracetamol, which can lead to aspirin/paracetamol poisoning.

Stimulant type: These OTC medicines contain caffeine or ephedrine and act in a similar way to amphetamine. They are found in nasal decongestants, cough syrups and cold remedies.

Sedative type: Many OTC cough and cold remedies contain antihistamines which can produce a noticeable sedative action, the danger of which can be increased by its combined use with alcohol.

Legal status: There are OTC preparations containing drugs open to misuse which are not fully controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act because of their low strength, but they do come under the Medicines Act. These preparations can be purchased legitimately from any pharmacist. There have, however, been a number of prosecutions of pharmacists who have been selling OTC drugs knowing they were likely to be misused. This has also applied to the sale of solvents and other volatile hydrocarbons.
Over the Counter Medicine