Vol. 1 No. 8 (2021)
Health Technology Reviews

Medications Containing Low-Dose Codeine for the Treatment of Pain and Coughs

Published August 18, 2021

Key Messages

  • Codeine and codeine-containing medicines are used to treat people experiencing pain or cough symptoms. Whereas most products containing codeine require a prescription in Canada, some jurisdictions permit over-the-counter sales of products containing low doses of codeine mixed with other non-narcotic medicinal ingredients.
  • Three overviews of reviews and 13 systematic reviews of variable methodological quality failed to identify studies on the effectiveness of low-dose codeine (i.e., 8 mg of codeine per tablet or 20 mg of codeine per 30 mL in liquid products) for the treatment of pain or coughs.
  • There is a lack of evidence on the clinical effectiveness of oral analgesics and oral antitussives containing low doses of codeine.