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MCAZ withdraws pholcodine cough syrups

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MCAZ withdraws pholcodine cough syrups

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ALL cough syrups containing pholcodine, an opiate, now have to be quarantined by pharmaceutical
wholesalers, retailers, public and private hospitals as these are being withdrawn from the Zimbabwean
market by the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ).
In a statement on Friday, MCAZ general-director Mr Richard Rukwata said due to the seriousness of the
safety risk, all pholcodine-containing products were being withdrawn from the Zimbabwean market.
Pholcodine is an opioid medicine that is used for the treatment of non-productive or dry cough in children
and adults.
“Available data indicated that the use of pholcodine in the 12 months before general anaesthesia with
neuromuscular blocking agents (NMBA) such as suxamethonium, and atracurium is a risk factor for
developing an anaphylactic reaction upon administration of the NMBA,” Mr Rukwata said.
“The hypothesis that pholcodine use could trigger anaphylactic reactions to NMBAs is based on the body
producing antibodies against pholcodine, which eventually trigger reactions to NMBAs.”
Further, he said, authorities had noted there was no immediate solution to the risk.
“The authority noted that there are no effective measures to minimise this risk, nor is there an identified
patient population for whom the benefits of pholcodine outweigh its risks.” “The hypothesis that
pholcodine use could trigger anaphylactic reactions to NMBAs is based on the body producing antibodies
against pholcodine, which eventually trigger reactions to NMBAs.”
For health care professionals, Mr Rukwata said, they should advise patients to stop taking pholcodinecontaining
medicines and consider appropriate alternatives to treat their symptoms.
“Check whether patients scheduled to undergo general anaesthesia with NMBAs have used pholcodine in
the previous 12 months and remain aware of the risk of anaphylactic reactions in those patients.”
For consumers, the MCAZ director general said: “If you need general anaesthesia and have taken a
pholcodine-containing medicine in the past 12 months advise your healthcare professional prior to undergoing the procedure.”Herald.

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