Pseudoephedrine and ephedrine: managing the risk of misuse – July 2010 update

This public assessment report has been superseded by a more recent report published in 2015.

01 July 2010

Pseudoephedrine (PSE) and ephedrine (EPH) are nasal decongestants (help clear a blocked nose) contained in several over-the-counter cough and cold medicines. 

There is a risk that PSE and EPH can be extracted from these medicines and used in the illegal manufacture of the Class A controlled drug methylamphetamine (commonly known as ‘crystal meth’). 

Controls were therefore introduced in 2008 to minimise the supply and misuse of these medicines. The impact of these controls is reviewed on a yearly basis by the Commission on Human Medicines and the MHRA.

The following report presents the 2010 update on the impact of these tighter controls and reveals there were no new reports of misuse of these drugs from 2009 – 2010, since the controls were introduced.

(This report updates an earlier Public Assessment Report on this issue, published in July 2009).

This information has also been highlighted in the September 2010 issue of our publication Drug Safety Update

This report presents the evidence that was available when the regulatory decision was made, showing a ‘snapshot’ of the clinical landscape at the time. However, any advice in this report remains current unless it is superseded by a more recent report (where relevant, this is indicated).

Page last modified: 11 February 2016