Tylenol 1 to require prescription in Manitoba in February 2016

It's about to get harder to get Tylenol 1 in Manitoba. Starting Feb. 1, 2016, the drug will require a prescription and will be tracked from the province's Drug Programs Information Network (DPIN).

Pharmacists have called for tougher regulation of the drug

Tylenol No. 1 will require a prescription in Manitoba as of February 2016. (CBC)

Manitobans looking to buy Tylenol No. 1 will need a prescription as of Feb. 1, 2016.

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

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

Ronald Guse is the registrar with the College of Pharmacists of Manitoba. (CBC)
In February, that will change.

"It's been a long time coming," said College of Pharmacists of Manitoba Registrar Ronald Guse.

As of February, anyone wanting to buy Tylenol No. 1 will have to produce a prescription from a doctor, a nurse practitioner or a 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 the changes, all purchases of Tylenol No. 1 will be entered into DPIN — the province's Drug Programs Information Network — which will allow other pharmacists to track how many times the drug has been dispensed to the customer.

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

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

In April, pharmacists told the I-Team that even though there were some restrictions in place around the sale of Tylenol No. 1, they didn't go far enough. Pharmacists generally restrict the sale of Tylenol No. 1 to one or two bottles, but that doesn't stop consumers from buying more at other pharmacies.

The I-Team visited a series of pharmacies 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), which will allow other pharmacists to track how many times the drug has been dispensed to a customer. (CBC)
"The pharmacists are really trying to do the right thing but there is a lot of pressure on them, and the challenge is if one says no and the next one down the street says yes, it kind of works against the proper way of doing things," Guse said.

"By having a law in effect, it puts everyone on a level playing field."

Guse is expecting some blowback from members of the public who are used to being able to buy the drug easily. He is hoping a public awareness campaign launching in January helps soften the blow.

"I think there might be some [people] that are concerned about the time it takes and the access, and that's unfortunate." Guse said.

"You can't really get around that because the greater need is to make sure they are used properly."

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