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  • Writer's pictureFlow Australia

Psuedoephedrine cold and flu drugs coming back in NZ

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Luxon says he's a fan of pseudoephedrine-enhanced cold and flu drugs and wants them back on pharmacy shelves.



New Zealanders will be free to stock up on pseudoephedrine-laced cold and flu tablets as soon as this winter after a legislative change.


David Seymour, leader of the free market libertarian ACT party, has championed the return of the hard-hitting drugs and is tabling a bill to parliament on Tuesday to bring them back.


"Alternative cold and flu medicines have been shown to be no more effective than a placebo. New Zealanders are being denied decent cold and flu medication," he said.


Under the change, cold and flu medicine with pseudoephedrine will be reclassified so it can be sold without a prescription.


The drugs were moved behind the counter by former National leader John Key, as part of his government's "war on methamphetamine", which Kiwis call "P".


Pseudoephedrine is an ingredient of the widely-used illicit drug, which Mr Key said at the time was "wrecking lives and it is wrecking families".


At the time, pharmacies were the subject of burglaries and ram-raids for the drug.


Mr Seymour said the return of beefed-up cold and flu meds wouldn't bring back crime.


"Gangs have far more effective ways of obtaining pseudoephedrine to manufacture methamphetamine and we should tackle these head on instead," he said.


ACT campaigned on the promise and won support from the National party to include it in the coalition government's policy agenda.


The change was then fast-tracked and placed inside the government's 100-day plan.


Prime Minister Chris Luxon said he had taken the drugs it in the past as they "offered better relief".


"We really want to make sure we get activated and in place as soon as we possibly can ... we want to make sure we have this effective medicine in place," he said.


Deputy National leader Nicola Willis disagreed, saying the best thing for a cold was "a good night's sleep". 


Transport Minister Simeon Brown said he "loved" the pseudoephedrine-enhanced drugs, and he "can't wait to get down to the pharmacy" to get some the next time he has a cold.


Labour leader Chris Hipkins said his party was likely to offer support.


Despite Tuesday's announcement, the road to the pseudoephedrine meds returning is still at least months away, and possibly not until 2025.


The bill will pass a first reading on Tuesday, head to an expedited public consultation process of one month, before returning to parliament to become law by the end of March.


New Zealand's drug regulator Medsafe must also clear the drugs, and supplies but also want to sell them: both of which are considered highly likely.


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