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Pseudoephedrine sales in 99p Stores prompt crystal meth fears

Regulation The MHRA has pledged to investigate the full extent of unauthorised pseudoephedrine sales after a discount store put pharmacy-only Nurofen Cold and Flu containing the ingredient on its shelves.

The MHRA has pledged to investigate the full extent of unauthorised pseudoephedrine sales after a 99p Stores branch put pharmacy-only Nurofen Cold and Flu containing the ingredient on its shelves.


Brijesh Chopra, a pharmacy manager in Solihull, spotted 12-tablet packs of the medicine with Arabic writing on them at a 99p Stores branch in Kingfisher Shopping Centre, Redditch, last month. Mr Chopra reported the incident to the store manager, who passed the concerns on to the chain's head office, and also informed the MHRA.


"My concern was that it could be used for crystal meth [production]," Mr Chopra told C+D.


A pharmacist spotted the pseudoephedrine-containing Nurofen Cold and Flu packs in a 99p Stores branch and alerted the manager

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A 99p Stores spokesman told C+D last week that it had been "working closely with the MHRA" on the matter. He said the medicine was "a rogue product" at one of the chain's 225 UK branches and had been removed from all shelves.

The MHRA said it was aware of the incident and stressed that patient safety was of the "utmost priority". "The MHRA is currently taking action to determine the full extent of the problem and associated circumstances," a spokesperson told C+D.


Nurofen manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser UK said it had not supplied the product to the 99p Stores branch, but confirmed it was aware of the incident and would investigate the matter further.


The MHRA decided against reclassifying pseudoephedrine from P to POM in 2009 following C+D's Stop the Switch campaign. But further restrictions were placed on its sale in pharmacies to minimise the medicine's misuse in the illegal manufacturing of crystal meth.



How can the MHRA prevent P meds ending up on general sale?

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9 Comments

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Of course, there is also the issue that pharmacist wages have gotten so low that they now have to shop in 99p stores!

Freelance Pharmacist, Academic pharmacist

The GPhC were nowhere to be seen. I guess they were using the 99p store as a test to see how well self selection will work. Maybe a plan to have everything on self-selection as pharmacists are only adding to the costs of delivering value to customers. Shocking but the RPS did not comment either.

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

One hopes the 99p shop is being prosecuted for the attempted illegal supply of P-meds -
I assume the GPhC will be making representations!

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

If all medicines are treated properly, you wouldn't be able to buy nurofen of any variety from a 99p shop. We either clearly accept and agree that medicines are not to be treated lightly and get rid of the GSL category or agree there can be "less dangerous" medicines available through non-pharmacy outlets. My question is, how many GSL paracetamol does it take to give you liver damage? How many GSL nurofen does it take to give you a gastric bleed or asthma exacerbation? Not very many!

C W, Dispensing assistant

If medicines were treated properly? It seems from your post that you're against the GSL category entirely. Based on that I presume you think all medicines would be sold under the guidance of a pharmacist?

We have to place a certain amount of trust in the general public to manage their own health. You could easily argue that any product that has the potential to cause you harm should be sold with heavy restrictions.

Simple, basic analgesics like paracetamol and ibuprofen are safe for the vast majority of people to take if they follow the product information, and take the medicines in the dose specified.

There are risks with all medicinal products. However, the level of risk is outweighed by the benefits of those medicines. If someone had a headache and wanted to pop into Tesco to buy some paracetamol should they have to go to the pharmacy? No, they shouldn't, not for such a simple, safe and well-known product.

Peter McAuley, Community pharmacist

If the pack was in Arabic, was it a counterfeit product?

K.J P, Locum pharmacist

Well done mr chopra
Also .. It should add weight to PDA'S petetion
On ....

Richard Judge, Manager

Another incident highlighting the importance of the "P" classification and the important roll that pharmacies and pharmacists play in ensuring public health by control of OTC medicine sales.

Mr Dispenser, Community pharmacist

Well done to Mr Chopra for spotting it and for the chain for removing them

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