Pseudoephedrine to be prescription-only

The Government has followed up the recommendation of the Chief Science Advisor Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, signaling that it will move to make pseudoephedrine a Class B2 controlled drug, making it prescription-only.

UPDATED: While Professor Peter Gluckman recommended option 5 be adopted by the Government calling for a reclassification of pseudoephedribe to Class B2 and that the drug only be sold by hospital pharmacies, the Prime Minister has indicated that he wants pharmacies in general to still be able to sell pseudoephedrine as long as they meet certain criteria. That criteria has yet to be outlined.

The ability of doctors to prescribe pseudoephedrine is also likely to be  restricted.

meth-ephedrineThat means over the counter sales of cold and flu medicines containing pseudoephedrine will end and you will need a doctor’s note to purchase drugs containing the compound and they will only be prescribed for a narrow range of conditions.

The Chief Science Advisor’s report is here.

Other moves the Government will make to combat methamphetamine production:

* Using the proceeds of crime legislation to fund anti-P initiatives, including additional Police and Customs activities to fight gangs and organised crime. Proceeds will also fund an expansion of drug treatment services.

* Developing a dedicated treatment pathway for P users, starting with the Ministry of Health investing in additional $22 million in clinical services to ensure both short term and longer-term treatment for P addiction is available to more than 3,000 additional patients over the next three years.

* Assigning 40 additional Customs officers to special dedicated drug-taskforce duties to help break the supply chain.

* Implementing a new Police Methamphetamine Control Strategy from November this year, which aims to use intelligence in new ways to target gangs, investigate drug syndicates which import P precursors illegally, target P ‘cooks’ and seize funds and assets gained through P-related activity.

* Reviewing the outdated Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Act 1966, to provide a more effective legal means for families and doctors to get P-addicts into compulsory assessment and treatment.

* Making chief executives of Government agencies accountable for delivering on our plans, as measured against a range of targets that will be clearly set out in the actual Action Plan to be released next week.

The Science Media Centre will be wrapping up reaction from scientists on the recommendation – check the SMC website for updates…

One Comment

  1. kurt

    The problem when looking at data in isolation is that you don’t get a sense of proportion. If you look at the positive effects of this product compared with the negative effects, and then compare it to another drug such as Alcohol, and use logic instead of emotion, hysteria and political agenda you might actually get decisions that make sense, instead we let others decide what is best for us, and fail to object because it is too much hard work. This piece from the labour blog seems to sum it best;

    (What I found bizarre about Key going after pseudoephedrine – a substance that brings relief to hundreds of thousands of responsible users – is that just a month ago Key was advocating the exact opposite position with regard to alcohol.

    His exact words on Newstalk ZB were: “I think you’ve got to be very careful you don’t get in a situation where you simply whack up the price of booze and everybody gets affected because some, particularly young people, are going out on benders”.

    So it’s OK to penalise pseudoephedrine users but not OK to penalise alcohol users. I don’t get it. Both are legal. Both are controlled to some extent. Both have benefits and dangers. Actually, if you think about it, pseudoephedrine helps boost productivity by helping people suffering a cold or the flu get back to work sooner. I don’t think anyone could claim alcohol makes you more productive.

    I won’t try to argue that the physical and psychological effects of P as a substance aren’t far greater than those of alcohol. But as far as their respective impacts on our community and economy go, the two aren’t even in the same ballpark. All substance abuse in New Zealand is estimated to cost $6.3 billion each year. Over $5 billion of that is due to alcohol abuse. That leaves just $1.3 billion to all other substances – cannabis, amphetamines (including P), opiates, party pills, the lot.)

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