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RPSGB warns pharmacists about cough and cold medicines

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain has told pharmacists that they have two years to prove that they can properly control the sales of certain cough and cold medicines
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) has told pharmacists that they have two years to prove that they can properly control the sales of certain cough and cold medicines.

In 2008 the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said that products containing pseudoephedrine/ephedrine should be legally reclassified as prescription-only medicines (POM). According to the RPSGB, the two components can be used to manufacture crystal methamphetamine (crystal meth), and the process is relatively simple for anyone with medical knowledge.

Community pharmacists have been issued with guidance from the RPSGB on how best to control the sales of medicines containing pseudoephedrine/ephedrine. The measures include increasing staff awareness of the problem, keeping medicines behind the counter and limiting the amount a consumer can purchase in a single visit.

David Pruce, director of practice and quality improvement for the society, said: "Continued vigilance and improving staff awareness of the issues relating to pseudoephedrine/ephedrine misuse may help demonstrate that supply of these products can confidently be managed within the pharmacy setting. These medicines are used to treat coughs and colds so there is a naturally high demand and it is important that pharmacists continue to balance this with consumer safety."

The MHRA stated that if evidence emerges that the illegal manufacture of crystal meth has not been contained, then pseudoephedrine/ephedrine should reclassified as POM in July 2009. The society hopes that allowing pharmacies two years to prove they can control sales of the drugs sends a clear signal of faith in the profession to consumers.

17th April 2008

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