Pubdate: Fri, 11 Nov 2005
Source: Winkler Times (CN MB)
Copyright: 2005 Winkler Times
Author: Ashleigh Viveiros
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine - Canada)


Cold medicines that can be used to make the drug crystal meth are
being pulled off the shelves and put behind the counter in pharmacies
across the province this month.

Crystal methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug that can be easily
made using a variety of household products, including cold medications
containing the chemical pseudoephedrine.

The provincial government announced last week it will join
Saskatchewan in its battle against crystal meth by restricting the
sale of products in which pseudoephedrine is the sole ingredient.

These products will now only be available behind the counter at
pharmacies, with a limit of 3,600 mg per customer.

The decision affects 17 medications previously available on the
shelves of pharmacies and convenience stores throughout Manitoba,
including certain Sudafed, Benylin, and Contac products.

The restrictions are being phased in over the next few months, but
many local pharmacies have already removed these products from their
public shelves.

"We were proactive," said Gwen Lawson, a pharmacist at Pharmasave.
"(We've removed) all the pseudoephedrine pure products."

The six different products the store had in stock are now stored
behind the counter, said Lawson, and notices explaining their new
location will be put up in their former shelf space.

Lawson said this step is a necessary one considering the recent rise
in crystal meth use among Manitoba youth.

"I think it's a good idea," she said. "We sure don't want our youth
exposed to crystal meth ... (we'll do) anything we can do to help
prevent those types of things."

At Dean's Pharmacy in the ALG Professional Centre, the restrictions
affected only three products, said pharmacist Dean Harris.

And while having these products behind the counter may make purchasing
them a bit more of a hassle, legitimate users are unlikely to mind, he

"If they have a legitimate reason ... if they really want it, they can
ask the pharmacist for it," said Harris.

Close watch on other products

Although the new legislation will keep pure pseudoephedrine
medications out of the hands of crystal meth manufacturers, products
containing the chemical along with other ingredients are still on the
shelf, said Lawson, and most pharmacists are keeping a close eye on

"We're watching those," she said.

Since these products can also be used to make crystal meth - albeit in
a less convenient way - Harris suspects it won't be long before they
are also sold on a restricted basis.

"It's only a matter of time," he said. "(Eventually) we're going to
see all pseudoephedrine containing products behind the counter." If
that's the case, dozens of popular cold medications could be pulled
from the shelves, said Harris.
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