Adcock Ingram looking to fight codeine addiction among South African youth

Local pharma company partners in campaign to raise awareness about dangers of codeine addiction.

The local pharmaceutical company Adcock Ingram has joined forces with the police to fight codeine addiction among the youth. Through the campaign called #LeanOnMe, the Midrand-based company along with its partners are looking to raise awareness about the dangers of using “lean”, which is a mixture of codeine and other ingredients such as fizzy drinks. An opioid, codeine is used to treat pain and is found mainly in pain pills and cough syrups. Opioids are narcotics with a known potential for dependence. Codeine itself is also known to have euphoriant effects, which can reinforce further use and lead to dependency. Back in 2018, it was estimated that 600,000 South Africans were addicted to this “purple drink” which could have detrimental effects when used excessively.

In South Africa, codeine-containing cough syrups are regulated in terms of Schedule 2 and Schedule 3 of the Medicines and Related Substances Control Amendment Act. And unless prescribed by an authorised prescriber, codeine-containing products can only be sold by a registered pharmacist, or a post-basic pharmacist’s assistant under the personal supervision of a pharmacist, at a licenced pharmacy. However, illicit sales of the products have been on the rise and have fuelled youth addiction. The country’s regulator, SAHPRA, is also monitoring the rise in illicit codeine sales closely and has encouraged any complaints be reported via telephone on (012) 842 7609/10 or by email: or to the National Adverse Drug Events Monitoring Centre on (021) 447 1618.