27 May 2009

Pharmacists resist ban on cold medicines

6:38 am on 27 May 2009

The Pharmacy Guild is resisting calls for a ban aimed at cutting availability of the main ingredient used in manufacturing the illegal drug P.

Prime Minister John Key is asking newly-appointed chief scientific adviser Peter Gluckman to look at whether New Zealand can eliminate the precursor drug pseudoephedrine.

The advice could lead to the eventual banning of all medicines containing the drug, which is commonly used to treat cold and flu symptoms.

However Pharmacy Guild Chief Executive Annabel Young says she is not convinced an outright ban is the answer.

She says that is because the alternatives to the drug are not as effective and most of this country's pseudoephedrine comes in from China.

Police dispute that, saying around 70% of the pseudoephedrine identified at P laboratories dismantled in New Zealand is from within this country.

The dispensing and prescribing of pseudoephedrine has been banned in Rotorua since 2002.

Pharmacist Kirsty Croucher says people have accepted the ban, despite some initial resistance.

She says effective alternatives to pseudophedrine are now available to treat cold and flu symptoms.