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MPs back GPs on ephedrine scripts

MPs have attacked the drug regulator's plans to make medicines containing ephedrine prescription-only, following warnings over the impact of the move on GP workload.

The all-party parliamentary groups on primary care and public health concluded they were 'convinced stricter controls are unnecessary at this time'.

Their report will be welcomed by GPs, who have expressed concern they could be overwhelmed by people seeking prescriptions for medication previously available over the counter. Both ephedrine and pseudo-ephedrine have been at the centre of scares over their potential use in creating the illegal drug methylamphetamine, commonly called crystal meth.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is consulting on moving their status to prescription only. But the MPs said they had not heard from the MHRA or police bodies that there was evidence of sufficient numbers of cases involving use of over-the-counter medicines in the manufacture of crystal meth.

GPs have been worried restrictions would be onerous, as well as contrary to the Government's Choice agenda.

Dr Maureen Baker, RCGP honorary secretary, told the inquiry: 'There is a risk many of those who previously self-medicated will need to go to their GP to obtain prescriptions and that this will increase pressure on consultations.'

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