Pseudoephedrine to be hospital 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 and available only from hospital pharmacies.

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 idea is that this will stop people from “pill shopping” – going from pharmacy to pharmacy to buy enough pills to give them enough pseudoephedrine to produce a batch of methamphetamine.

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* Reviewing the outdated Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Act 1966, to provide a more effective legal means for families and doctors to get P-addicts into compulsory assessment and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