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BOISE, Idaho -- The nation's biggest retailers continue to pull back from overt merchandising of the increasingly controversial family of OTC drugs containing pseudoephedrine.
Albertsons, Inc. said yesterday that it would only sell certain over-the-counter cold and cough medications containing the ingredient, which is popular among makers of the illegal drug methamphetamine, from behind the pharmacy counters in its stores.
Later the same day, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. also said it would move many nonprescription cold and allergy medications behind pharmacy counters by June.
The world's largest retailer said it had already been making the changes, and estimated that 60 percent of its stores are already selling the products behind the counter. Wal-Mart had not previously announced a timetable for making the changes.
"We will continue with our plan to move the most commonly abused products containing pseudoephedrine behind the pharmacy counter in all our stores by early June," said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Jacquie Young in an Associated Press report. "The remaining solid dose products containing multi-ingredients will be moved behind the pharmacy counter by September."
Albertsons' new policy will be instituted over the next few months, the retailer said. In Albertsons' units that don't include a pharmacy, only products without pseudoephedrine will be sold. Albertsons has 2,000 pharmacies within its network of 2,500 stores.
"The clandestine manufacture of methamphetamine has tremendous social, environmental, and law-enforcement impact in many of the communities we serve," said Albertsons chairman, c.e.o., and president Larry Johnston in a statement. "We want to do our part to make certain that the products we sell do not become part of the problems that methamphetamine labs cause."
Albertsons shoppers will also continue to be limited to buying three packages of pseudoephedrine-containing products per shopping visit. Albertsons spokeswoman Karen Ramos explained to Progressive Grocer that the purchase limit was a voluntary restriction implemented by the company a few years ago. All of the Albertsons' stores are in compliance with existing laws and regulations, the retailer stressed.
Albertsons' divisions and subsidiaries operate more than 2,500 stores in 37 states and employ more than 240,000 associates. Among its banners are Albertsons, Acme, Shaw's, Jewel-Osco, Sav-on Drugs, Osco Drug, and Star Markets, as well as Super Saver and Bristol Farms, which are operated independently.