Tylenol 1 will require a prescription in Manitoba in February 2016

Manitobans who wish to purchase Tylenol No. 1 will need a prescription effective February 1, 2016.

Earlier this year, pharmacists voiced concerns to the CBC I-Team that the drug was too readily available and was being abused.

People addicted to prescription opioids like Tylenol No. 3 can buy Tylenol No. 1 without a prescription. The problem is, while Tylenol No. 1 is made up of eight milligrams of codeine, it also contains 300 mg of acetaminophen. Those who take it in large doses to replace opioids inadvertently poison their liver with the huge amount of acetaminophen.

Ronald Guse is the Registrar of the College of Pharmacists of Manitoba. (SRC)

In February, that will change.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Ronald Guse, Registrar of the Manitoba College of Pharmacists.

Starting in February, anyone wishing to purchase Tylenol No. 1 will need to produce a prescription from a doctor, nurse practitioner or dentist. Under the new changes, pharmacists are also allowed to write a prescription for Tylenol No. 1 at their own discretion.

As a result of these changes, all purchases of Tylenol No. 1 will be entered into DPIN – the province’s drug program information network – which will allow other pharmacists to track how many times the drug has been issued to the customer.

“By having that in the system,” said Guse, “it puts the pharmacist in a better position and provides a better level of protection and care for the public.”

Tylenol No. 1 is not the only drug included in the changes. The college’s broader harm reduction strategy includes Calmylin and Robaxecet-8, both of which will now require a prescription and will also be tracked in the DPIN.

In April, pharmacists told the I-Team that while there were restrictions on the sale of Tylenol No. 1, they had not gone far enough. Pharmacists generally limit the sale of Tylenol No. 1 to one or two bottles, but that does not prevent consumers from buying more at other pharmacies.

The I-Team visited a series of drugstores along Main Street and bought thousands of pills in the space of a morning.

Tylenol No. 1 will now be tracked in the province’s Drug Programs Information Network (DPIN), allowing other pharmacists to track how many times the drug has been dispensed to a client. (SRC)

“Pharmacists are really trying to do the right thing, but there’s a lot of pressure on them, and the challenge is that if one says no and the next one down the street says yes, it goes a bit wrong. ‘against the right way of doing things,’ said Guse.

“Having a law in effect puts everyone on an equal footing.”

Guse expects a backlash from members of the public accustomed to being able to easily buy the drug. He hopes a public awareness campaign launched in January will help ease the shock.

“I think there might be [people] who are concerned about the time it takes and access, and that’s unfortunate, ”Guse said.

“You can’t really get around this because the biggest need is to make sure they’re used correctly.”


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