New research5 has assessed one aspect of the costs of OTC codeine misuse – those related to associated hospital admissions.
The study used records from a 593-bed Australian public hospital taken over a 5-year period from June 2010 to June 2015.
All hospitalisations related to exposure to anti-inflammatories, analgesics or narcotics, and with documented OTC codeine use, were collected. These included hospitalisations from gastrointestinal bleeding, hypokalaemia, acute renal failure and drug-induced liver injury.
Other admissions of patients already included with a documented codeine-related hospitalisation were examined to find further possible codeine-related hospitalisations. Admissions were added when an expert committee assessed hospitalisation as likely to be related to a misuse of OTC codeine, even though codeine use may not have been documented.
A total of 99 OTC codeine misuse admissions, involving 30 patients, were found. The estimated cost to the local healthcare system was $1,008,082, with a mean cost per hospital admission of $10,183.