Return of pseudoephedrine to pharmacies


Return of pseudoephedrine to pharmacies

Media release from Consumer Health Products New Zealand (CHPNZ)
2 minutes to Read
Unfiltered May 2022

Returned to many pharmacies in time for winter are products containing pseudoephedrine – a highly effective treatment for cough and cold symptoms, including nasal congestion.

It’s also been a successful race to get it back onto local pharmacy shelves in time for wintry temperatures sweeping across the country. For industry this meant urgent sourcing of the medicine by suppliers and quick and thorough work by medicines regulator Medsafe to ensure those products met the stringent standards of the new pseudoephedrine legislation.

Removed from pharmacy shelves over a decade ago due to its use in illegal drug manufacturer, there was increasing demand to make pseudoephedrine available again, partly due to consumer dissatisfaction with available alternatives and claims that as a precursor, pseudoephedrine was no longer popular for illegal drug supply.

Consequently, one of the early legislation changes put through by the new National-led coalition government was to amend the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 and the 1984 Medicines Regulations to reclassify pseudoephedrine as a restricted drug.

Following several weeks of submissions and presentations to the Health Select Committee, the Misuse of Drugs (Pseudoephedrine) Amendment Bill 2024 passed through the final parliamentary stages unchanged.

Pseudoephedrine is now reclassified from a Class B to a Class C controlled drug, meaning cold and flu medicines containing pseudoephedrine, or PSE, could now be available without a prescription.

Associate Minister of Health David Seymour was clear in his expectations to industry that medicines containing PSE needed to be on pharmacy shelves in time for the onset of cold temperatures.

This was a challenge that over-the-counter peak body Consumer Health Products New Zealand (CHPNZ) Chief Executive Scott Milne said its members were determined to achieve.

“With the stringent Australian standard checked as appropriate to apply for pseudoephedrine’s availability in the New Zealand market, CHPNZ members had to also satisfy the regulator that the packaging and instructions for all products containing pseudoephedrine, as a restricted drug, were clear and accurate.

“After many years unavailable locally, our member companies worked tirelessly with regulator Medsafe in a parallel process, to both ensure product efficacy and safety as well as source enough stock to meet projected demand within the tight timeframe required.”

Scott Milne said that with general practices and emergency rooms throughout Aotearoa New Zealand under pressure, the availability of over-the-counter medicines that are safe and effective are much in demand.

“Self-care, particularly through over the counter (OTC) medicine and advice, is on the global rise, particularly due to the growth of consumer trust in retail pharmacy, as we saw during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the wider availability of safe and highly effective OTC products.

“Given this, a pharmacy will continue to be the best place to buy pseudoephedrine medicines. Products containing the drug still remain restricted because they need to be used with the right advice and support, and consultation with a pharmacist remains the best way to achieve this,” said Scott Milne.