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'Uncoordinated' codeine use caused Ipswich woman's death

A coroner questioned the regulation of online pharmacies after a woman died as a result of her addiction to the painkiller codeine.

Debbie Headspeath, 41, collapsed at home in Ipswich in 2017. The inquest heard she had been prescribed the opiate for back pain by her GP in 2008 and had later bought more online without his knowledge. The inquest found Mrs Headspeath died from pneumonitis caused by acute pancreatitis which in turn was caused by chronic codeine use. An investigation by the coroner's office found she had been prescribed codeine from 16 online companies spending more than £10,000 - on top of her prescriptions from her local NHS surgery.

The Suffolk Coroner, Nigel Parsley, said he would ask the government to look at closing "regulatory gaps" in the system. He said Mrs Headspeath had been able to "manipulate" the system and he delivered a narrative conclusion that she died as a result of the "uncoordinated availability of codeine from multiple suppliers". The coroner said he would prepare a full prevention of future deaths report for the family and Department of Health.

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Source: BBC News, 12 November 2019


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