By ANN-MARIE MAY
GETTING a runny nose this winter will mean more than a simple trip to the chemist to pick up a packet of cold and flu tablets ? more money and more paperwork.
In an effort to curb illegal drug manufacturing, restrictions have been placed on cold, flu and sinus drugs containing pseudoephe-drine, making it more difficult for patients to get the remedy they need.
Pseudoephedrine is an ingredient in the manufacture of the prohibited drug methamphetamine, known as speed.
At the start of this year, the National Drugs and Poisons Schedule Committee moved to restrict products containing pseudo-ephedrine to behind-the-counter sales at pharmacies.
And from April 1, a doctor's prescription will be required to purchase all liquid formulations containing more than 800 milligrams of pseudoephedrine and all capsules and tablets containing more than 720 milligrams.
It is a move not welcomed by one local doctor, who said the restrictions would do more harm than good.
"Restricting access will place an enormous burden on the health system and disadvantage the patients," the doctor, who did not want to be identified, said.
"Increases in doctor visits and prescription fees will cost the patient more and put even more pressure on our doctors during peak cold and flu periods.
"Coffs Harbour already faces a shortage in available doctors."
For now, people looking for cold relief will have to provide identification and leave their name on a permanent record if they wish to buy medicines such as Codral, Sudafed and Lemsip full strength.
Owner of Northside Pharmacy, Cam-May Chung-Wright, said she could see both good and bad in the new regulations and asked people to be patient with the new procedure.
"It does require extra work from us, but on the other hand it is to help protect the safety of the public," Ms Chung-Wright said.
"Something needed to be done to stop the illegal use of drugs, and if this works then it is worth it."
She admits she and her staff have met with some resistance from the public when asking for identification.
"It is annoying for those who just have a basic cold or hay fever to have to be questioned," Ms Chung-Wright said.
"But once we explain why we have to do it they become more understanding, but to get them to that understanding also takes much time, ours and theirs.
"It will become more of an issue when the cold and flu season arrives. Then there will be a lot more work ? there is no doubt about that."