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ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. here is reaching out to shoppers with an explanation for its policy of restricting sales of over-the-counter cough and cold remedies containing pseudoephedrine, in keeping with Congress' recently passed bill.
In a column on the chain's Web site, Wegmans' s.v.p. of consumer affairs Mary Ellen Burris said the grocer is limiting purchases to three packages of any combination of medications containing pseudoephedrine, which can be used to make the illegal substance methamphetamine, or meth. Some items, however, among them Sudafed and Claritin D, are only available at the pharmacy counter, with a limit of one package, Burris explained. Signs located in the aisle identify the affected products and limits.
"A logical question is why can you buy three packages of some and only one of others," noted Burris. "The law actually states the daily sales restrictions in terms of number of grams of pseudoephedrine...3.6 grams. However, labels do not state the number of grams, nor are our scanning systems equipped to control grams. So figuring out how many packages can be bought before the 3.6-gram limit is reached has been tricky. For most products, a three-package limit will keep the purchase below 3.6 grams. However, for 15 products, a three-package purchase would exceed the gram limit. So those are placed behind the pharmacy counter; if you are in a household with several asthma or allergy sufferers, this restriction may be inconvenient. However, pharmacists are not permitted to make exceptions to the restriction."
Burris noted that by August, when some additional restrictions of the law become effective, "the vast majority of medicines will have been reformulated."
The next compliance deadline in the bill is Sept. 30, according to Burris.