England vs. US - Pharmacological Differences

I know that mild doses of codeine are available OTC in England. I am also aware there is a stronger pain-killer known as Solpadeine that can be bought over the counter. What does it do?

I am going to London with a bad toothache, no time to see my dentist. What other pharmacological wonders can I take advantage of, in a more or less responsible manner?

What’s legal in the UK that is out of the question in the US? I leave tomorrow for a business trip.

(I don’t smoke, drink, but my tooth does hurt…)

Well, they had Claritin over the counter before the U.S. did.

Heroin can be had by prescription. Tell the doctor it really, really hurts.

They call it ‘diacetylmorphine’. Maybe to avoid using the word ‘heroin’, or maybe because that was a trademark.

Small doses of codeine are available OTC (more like behind-the-counter; you have to ask the pharmacist) in Canada as well. Legally, they’re required to contain at least two other drugs; one is a non-opioid analgesic such as acetaminophen or aspirin, the other is a token amount of caffeine, which, according to TV commercials, is “an ingredient that makes the pain medicine work better”. Maybe it also makes it “non-drowsy”. =) It’s also possible to get cough syrup with codeine OTC, though the amount of codeine is even smaller than in the pills, and codeine cough syrup is probably less effective than the normal OTC kind.

The availability of OTC codeine tablets here (as well as the lower prices of drugs in general) has led to a certain amount of cross-border drug shopping. There are only a few drugs that are available in the US but not in Canada; the only one I really know of is Excedrin, a mixture of acetaminophen and aspirin.

Most of the differences between the drugs available in different countries are just differences in names. You probably know that acetaminophen (Tylenol) is called paracetamol in the UK and is sold under different brand names. There are a lot of prescription drugs in this category. Some drugs commonly sold in some countries are not sold in others; I recently learned that the standard OTC anti-nausea drug in Canada (dimenhydrinate, Gravol) is somewhat less commonly used in the US and has been banned in the UK. (There are stories of it being abused here, and some pharmacies, especially in small towns, put it behind the counter.)

A web search on Solpadeine turned up a very badly-spelled website about its abuse. Solpadeine is something like Alka-Seltzer, but with codeine. It’s only 8 mg, though, the same dose as in the OTC tablets. The same site mentioned morphine and tincture of opium being available OTC, just like they were in the US a hundred years ago.

Actually you can get Terpin Hydrate with Codiene (cough syrup) in the US without a prescription. But many stores refuse to carry it at all and others make you sign an official statement that you are getting some. The amount of codiene is really small though. It is however without a doubt the best cough syryp around IMHO, meaning that it is the only thing that ever worked when I got a bad cough.

er, cite?

Erm, why is this in cafe society?

England, if it’s prepared.

CBCD, posting the same question in two different forums is called cross-posting and is not allowed here. If you suspect you have posted in the wrong forum, contact a moderator to move it rather than start a new thread. I’ll close this copy and direct further comment to the GQ thread http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?postid=3947852#post3947852

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