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TORONTO -- The Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG) here has obtained a legal opinion saying that in the province of Ontario, implementation of the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA) recommendation to take many cough, cold and allergy remedies from grocery shelves is beyond the legal jurisdiction of the Ontario College of Pharmacists.
According to Ontario law, pseudoephedrine isn't a drug, so the CFIG believes that the recommendation doesn't apply to it.
In January NAPRA recommended the removal of all multi-ingredient pseudoephedrine and ephedrine products from grocery stores on April 10, citing the problem of crystal meth, although the association acknowledged it had no evidence that the disappearance of such products from store shelves to be used illegally in meth production was widespread in Canada.
British Columbia and Alberta have already declined to follow NAPRA's recommendation, agreeing with the CFIG that such 'retail diversion' isn't currently a problem in Canada.
"If it were a problem," said CFIG v.p. Gary Sands in a statement, "then NAPRA would have no option other than to recommend moving these products not only out of grocery stores, but behind the pharmacy counter. The fact that NAPRA are allowing these products to remain exactly where they are, on the general shelves in a pharmacy, and to be purchased without any intervention by a pharmacist, renders pharmacy's motives for this decision suspect."
Sands added that the recommendation was "is ill-considered, indefensible, and unfair to the public."
CFIG is a not-for-profit association of 3,000 members that represents independent and franchised grocers across Canada.