• A study of 31 countries ranked South Africa highest when it comes to how much over the counter codeine is sold in the form of painkillers or cough syrup. South Africa was the only African nation included in the review. 
  • The medicines regulator’s data shows that some of these sales can be chalked up to misuse, especially at pharmacies where there are no trained staff on duty. 
  • Only 10% of pharmacies have opted into using a database set up to flag abuse of such medicines. Public health experts say the tool called the Codeine Care Initiative must be made mandatory.

  • Read the full script here
Listen to our health reporter Zano Kunene, on SAfm Sunrise with Stephen Grootes, as he explains the misuse of codeine by teens
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Yolanda Mdzeke is a multimedia reporter at Bhekisisa. She graduated with an honours degree in journalism, specialising in broadcast journalism and documentary filmmaking, from Rhodes University in 2020.

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Zano Kunene is a health journalist at Bhekisisa.