Codeine is a controlled drug in the UAE, and can be used only with a prescription, said the director of the Drugs Control Department at the Ministry of Health.
"Here in the UAE," Dr Eisa Al Mansouri said, "we have a committee of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Interior, and they have prepared the UAE's Controlled Drugs List according to the International Narcotic Board.
"There are two lists of narcotics that are controlled under the law: the Ministry of Interior list, which include narcotics prohibited internationally and the list of the Ministry of Health, which contains drugs that have narcotic substances and cannot be consumed without a prescription."
Dr Al Mansouri said that apart from an international list of banned drugs, all countries worldwide have their own list of prohibited narcotics.
A spokesperson from the British Embassy in Dubai said Tracy Wilkinson's case is still in court and, as a British citizen, the embassy is giving the 42-year-old woman its full support.
Wilkinson was arrested last month at Dubai airport. After an interview with authorities, a urine sample was requested and codeine was found in her system.
"We are supporting her, and she has access to a lawyer. I can't give more details about her case as it is still going on."
The spokesperson said codeine is widely available in the United Kingdom and some medicines contain the alkaloid.
Dr Abhay Dandawate, specialist orthopedic surgeon at Welcare Hospital in Dubai, said, "As far as I know, medicines that contain codeine are not over the counter medicines in the UK. Patients need prescriptions to get these medicines."
Dr Dandawate has been educated in the UK and worked there for five years.
He said codeine causes sleepiness and might lead to addiction.
"In the UAE, doctors need special prescription from the Ministry of Health to prescribe this drug."
Gulf News contacted Lalys Chemists in Portsmouth in the United Kingdom.
"We don't stock anything containing codeine, but it is available over the counter in some places in the country."