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Sunday 23rd October 2016

Flu remedies face restrictions

25th April 2007

Commonly available flu remedies could become prescription only, due to fears that they are being used to create the addictive drug crystal meth.

The ingredients pseudoephedrine and ephedrine are used as decongestants in certain over-the counter flu medicines. In excess of 10million packets of flu medicine containing the ingredients are sold every year.

Pseudoephedrine and ephedrine can be extracted in order to produce crystal meth. The stimulant, also called methylamphetamine, was given a Class A drug classification in January last year.

Police have reported discovering pseudoephedrine and ephedrine during raids on drug factories. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is considering restricting the ingredients so that medicines which contain them are only available on prescription.

Health Minister Caroline Flint said: "Although the prevalence of misuse of methylamphetamine is believed to be currently low in the UK, the Association of Chief Police Officers are receiving increasing levels of intelligence about the prevalence of methylamphetamine."

"If methylamphetamine did secure a hold in the UK, the consequences would undoubtedly be very serious."

Sheila Kelly, executive director of the Proprietary Association of Great Britain, said measures similar to those imposed in the U.S. and Australia would be "more proportionate."

She said the countries "did not make pseudoephedrine a prescription-only ingredient. Instead they reduced the pack size, limited purchases to one pack per sale and made retailers put the products behind the counter or in locked cabinets."

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