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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 22 October, 2014

Pharmacists warned over use of cough syrup to make crystal meth

The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland has advised members to be cautious about people who ask for significant quantities of medicines.

Sudafed is perhaps the best-known over-the-counter drug which includes pseudoephedrine, which can be used in the manufacture of methamphetamines.
Sudafed is perhaps the best-known over-the-counter drug which includes pseudoephedrine, which can be used in the manufacture of methamphetamines.
Image: PAUL SANCYA/AP

THE PHARMACY REGULATOR has advised the country’s chemists to be vigilant to the potential abuse of cough syrup products – warning that they could be abused and used to make methamphetamines including crystal meth.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland has written to members saying some pharmacists had reported unusual or suspicious requests for cough syrups which include the decongestant pseudoephedrine, which can also be used as a stimulant.

The PSI said there had been reports that the medicines could be used to manufacture crystal meth, which it described as a “dangerous and highly addictive drug”.

RTÉ said pharmacies in Dublin, Kerry and Limerick had reported suspiciously high demand for the over-the-counter decongestant Sudafed, which contains the pseudoephedrine agent – and reported that one makeshift laboratory was found in Tralee last month, along with about €8,000 worth of amphetamines.

“Requests for these products should be referred to the pharmacist, particularly if the request might appear to suggest that it is not for a genuine therapeutic reason,” the PSI said, warning dispensaries to be  particularly vigilant for frequent requests from the same person.

“In dealing with requests where they may have suspicions, pharmacists should use their professional judgement and discretion in deciding whether a genuine clinical need exists and that the medicine is appropriate for the patient,” the PSI advisory said.

“Pharmacists will understand that they can refuse to supply a medicine where, in their professional opinion, such supply is not appropriate.”

The circular also advises pharmacists to notify their local Gardaí if they believe the medicines are being used for illicit purposes.

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