Is codeine OTC in Canada?

Specifically New Brunswick? I was reading the Sudafed thread and someone mentioned buying codeine in Canada. It’s the only thing that will get rid of a cough for me, but try getting a prescription! I have a friend who visits family in New Brunswick and was wondering if she could pick it up–is it prescription or OTC?


I’m not sure whether this helps; ISTR a Tylenol version with codeine, but I take even headache pills so rarely that I’m not sure.

You can get Tylenol 1 OTC in Canada, but that’s only a little more than a quarter the strength of Tylenol 3 (8mgs of codeine for T1 as compared to 30mg for T3). It’s also loaded up with caffeine, so you can buy products with codeine, but they won’t get you off the way you’re looking for (and if you try to megadose it, you’ll only give yourself an acetaminophen OD).

I had heard this rumor too, so on a bachelor party trip to Montreal I went into a pharmacy not far off St. Catherine street and told my tale of woe and pain the the guy in the white coat who had heard it all many, many times before. He took my name and address and sold me the tylenol and codine described above by Diogenes the Cynic. After driving the bottle over the border (feeling quite smug about the smuggling) and back home, I discovered it did nothing for my pain, and provided none of the high expected from codine, even taking a handful at a time (ah to be young and indestructible again). A total bust.

I actually haven’t found doctors unwilling to prescribe at least Robitussin with codeine, on any occasion when I’ve been sick enough to go in for a doctor visit and had an obvious cough.

I’m not looking to get off on it, I’m looking to have a supply for A) tooth pain and B) the cough I will certainly get this winter like I get every winter.

I cannot speak to any non-prescription codeine-containing cough syrups, since I find that non-codeine syrups work for me.

But you can get pain relievers containing codeine OTC in Canada. I’ve never taken any Tylenol containing codeine, but I’ll vouch for 222s (pronounced “two-twenty-twos”). I’ve had some real problems with my teeth over the last few years, and 222s are great for tooth pain, IME.

There are message boards on the greater Internet that will go into drug sources, legal and il-, but this isn’t one of them. If I can find them, you can find them.

Also, wouldn’t it be better to work on why you are getting that cough and get rid of whatever’s causing it? My guess is you need a humidifier (and I am always right, so that’s definitely it).

I’ve had chronic bronchitis since I was a kid. I don’t know why I always get it. It starts out as a head cold, and then moves into my chest and the cough lingers for weeks or even months. The worst one recently was in 2009 which lasted from January through mid-May. What finally cured it was the vicodin I got when I burned my hand. (At that same link you can see x-rays of my mouth and see why I have frequent tooth pain.) If I take enough Robitussin I can repress the cough somewhat, but it makes me feel really fuzzy and messes with my memory, which codeine doesn’t do.

We have a humidifier, maybe this winter I’ll try putting it in my room. I just have to remember to keep putting water in it.

You can buy cough syrup with Codeine OTC in Canada, as well as Tylenol 1 and 222’s.

Your friend will simply need to ask at the pharmacy counter for assistance. Although you can travel with a personal supply of OTC drugs however what that limit is is unclear (is is? Really?) so you may want to investigate the border restrictions.

Thanks for the info, Moonlitherial.

Just FYI, it’s illegal to bring those products back into the US, so if you get a friend to score for you, you’d be asking her to break the law and possibly get jacked up at the border.

Is this a general prohibition or does it only apply to US citizens?

If I was travelling to or transiting the US carrying something like Panafen (Ibuprofen 200mg, Codeine Phosphate 12.8mg.) or Panadeine Plus (Paracetamol 500mg, codeine phosphate 15mg), would it be illegal? They are both OTC drugs in NZ.

If you can prove you have a valid prescription for them for yourself, you can bring them in. If not, not.

Yeah, well they’re over the counter so a prescription isn’t required. I guess the answer is they would be illegal, then.

Really? If you are from NZ, and it’s an over the counter drug there, would you really have a problem?

Well, this is what the CBP website says:

So it looks like, in some cases, you can bring in a small amount without a prescription, but I don’t know whether codeine would qualify as a “narcotic” or not. If it is a “narcotic,” then it can’t be brought in.

I think that it would be best to declare up front that you have it, and ask if you can bring it in. If the answer is negative, they’d probably just take it and let you through. If you try to sneak it through without telling them (or try to sneak in a lot of it), you’ll probably be in more trouble, though.

I’ve done my share of going back and forth across the US/Canadian border, and fair warning, US border patrols are pricks. I wouldn’t take any chances with them.

No doubt. I’m sure that if you brought in a huge tub of them, you’d cause some suspicion. Fewer than twenty or so and the worst they would do (probably) is just take them from you.

If memory serves 222s are aspirin and codeine, not tylenol or ibuprofin.

You can bring a small supply back (222’s at least). I did mere weeks ago and disclosed the amount (50 pills) to the border patrol. His response: “perfect.”