Surgery and pholcodine


From The Week, 25 March 2023

Several cold and cough remedies have been withdrawn from the shelves owing to the risk they pose to people who are having major surgery. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said that it was acting in the light of evidence that taking pholcodine – an opioid cough suppressant – in the year before an operation, slightly increases the risk of anaphylaxis while under general anesthetic. Pharmacists were told to stop supplying drugs that contain pholcodine, which include some Day Nurse and Night Nurse capsules, and Boots’ own-brand cough syrup, immediately. However, officials stressed that the risk of anaphylaxis (also known as anaphylactic shock) during surgery remained very small Anyone who is scheduled to have surgery, and who has taken cough medicines in the past 12 months, is advised to inform their anaesthetist.


A year before surgery? Who would have thought an after effect could last that long.