Complications related to chronic supratherapeutic use of codeine containing compound analgesics in a cohort of patients presenting for codeine withdrawal

Victoria Cock, Carolyn Edmonds, Charles Cock

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    Introduction and Aims: This study aimed to compare complications arising due to the supratherapeutic use of paracetamol/codeine or ibuprofen/codeine containing compound analgesics in primary codeine-dependent patients presenting to a drug and alcohol withdrawal service. Data was compared to determine if there was any difference in the number of complications observed between the two groups. Design and Methods: A retrospective case review of patients presenting for primary codeine dependence from 2009 to 2014. Sixty patients (42F, 36 ± 10 years) using ibuprofen/codeine and 46 (26F, 39 ± 10 years) using paracetamol/codeine containing compound analgesics were compared. A P value of <0.05 was considered significant. Results: Patients consumed similar daily doses of codeine (699 ± 45 vs. 636 ± 50 mg) with those consuming ibuprofen/codeine containing compound analgesics ingesting twice as many tablets daily (median 60 vs. 30 tablets; P < 0.0001). Complications related to supratherapeutic use of codeine containing compound analgesics occurred more commonly in patients taking ibuprofen/codeine (52/60; 87%) versus paracetamol/codeine compound analgesics (30/46; 65%) (P < 0.01). Patients taking ibuprofen/codeine containing compound analgesics were more likely to have gastrointestinal bleeding (P < 0.05), anaemia (P < 0.0001) and renal tubular acidosis (P < 0.05). There were two deaths in the group abusing ibuprofen/codeine compound analgesics. Discussion and Conclusions: In patients with primary codeine dependence, there were more complications related to the supratherapeutic use of ibuprofen/codeine versus paracetamol/codeine containing compound analgesics. The patients in both groups ingested similar total daily codeine amounts. Increased daily tablet intake in the ibuprofen/codeine group could possibly have been linked to lower codeine content per tablet.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)731-737
    Number of pages7
    JournalDrug and Alcohol Review
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018


    • codeine
    • complications
    • ibuprofen
    • paracetamol
    • supratherapeutic compound analgesic use


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