Pharmacists fear return to pseudoephedrine-fueled meth crime wave, David Seymour calls it fearmongering

The Government is set to make medicines containing pseudoephedrine available over the counter in 2025 but some pharmacists are worried.  

The drug was restricted by National in 2011 because it was being used to cook methamphetamine but now the Government says the ban is ineffective as more meth is imported.  

While consumers will be thankful that the drug, which effectively addresses cold and flu symptoms, is back on shelves, there are risks.  

Pharmacist Vicky Chan is worried reversing the ban will bring back more pharmacy break-ins.  

"It does make me feel worried about my team's safety as well because pseudoephedrine is still a precursor for meth," Chan said.   

ACT leader David Seymour, who campaigned on reversing the ban, said "there's been fearmongering more recently about if we're allowed to sell it, it's going to lead to robberies of pharmacies".  

When pseudoephedrine was last widely available it was used to cook meth in suburban drug laboratories.  

Chemists were ramraided and then-Prime Minister John Key declared war on P and pulled pseudoephedrine from shelves in 2011.  

"The pseudoephedrine available in many cold and flu medications is fueling our P problem and that's unacceptable to me," Key said at the time.  

Asked whether pharmacies have a right to be concerned about increased criminal targeting, Seymour said, "excuse me, you don't know that".  

Chan is sure that it will eventuate.   

"It's a bit scary, it's a bit uncomfortable because we're going to be put back in that situation once again," she said.  

Seymour said it "may happen".  

"We need to ask ourselves if it's possible in other countries why should New Zealanders always face these restrictions?" he continued.  

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon said Police Minister Mark Mitchell will keep an eye on things, and he said Seymour and Mitchell have talked about having a monitoring brief on the potential issue.  

However, Mitchell said, "David Seymour and I? That's news to me. I haven't spoken to David Seymour about it".  

Newshub later received a call to clarify that Seymour and Mitchell had technically spoken about it at Cabinet.  

They'll need to get on the same page quickly.   

The bill will move through a truncated Parliament process because it'll take some time to get through Medsafe.