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Pharmacist representatives in the UK have welcomed new sales restrictions on cold and flu remedies amid concerns over their use in the manufacture of the illegal Class A drug crystal meth (crystallised methamphetamine).
The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said two drugs – pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, used in some over-the-counter decongestants – should be more tightly controlled.
The MHRA’s Commission on Human Medicines (CHM) recommends that pseudoephedrine and ephedrine should come in smaller, 720mg packs – equivalent to 12 tablets of 60mg or 24 capsules of 30mg.
The CHM also says there should be a limit of one pack per customer and that only pharmacists should sell them.
Colette McCreedy, director of practice at the UK’s National Pharmacy Association, added: “This is a sensible approach which will address the problem but still allow access to a safe and effective range of cough and cold remedies.
“However, as sales restrictions are put in place, people will notice a difference when they ask for medicines containing pseudoephedrine, and we ask for their understanding.
“If people have any concerns they should speak to their pharmacist or a member of the pharmacy team.”
A Royal Pharmaceutical Society spokesman said: “Pharmacy bodies are united on this issue, and will continue to work closely together to ensure the new measures enhance existing pharmacy controls.”
According to the MHRA, there are 97 authorised products containing pseudoephedrine and 17 containing ephedrine.
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National Pharmacy Association: www.npa.co.uk
Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain: www.rpsgb.org.uk