RAWALPINDI: This is with reference to the coverage being given in the print and electronic media to the so-called ephedrine scandal. Reports suggest that “not enough” of ephedrine has been issued to pharmaceutical companies and that its shortage may affect the treatment of cold and chest ailments.
In this context, I would state that ephedrine is no longer recommended for the treatment of colds and chest disorders due to its low efficacy, too many side effects and toxicity. Consequently, its therapeutic index is low. Ephedrine has been replaced with drugs which are far more effective and have fewer side effects and in order to further reduce them, these new drugs are used in vaporised forms through inhalers and nebulisers.
Ephedrine does have a use in the treatment of nasal obstructions in the form of relatively cheap nasal drops and is sometimes used by anaesthetists. On the other hand, ephedrine can be abused because it is used in the making of addictive drugs like methamphetamine and others which are dangerous for people’s physical and mental health.
It is in the interest of the public at large, both in the country and abroad, that the sale and use of ephedrine is strictly controlled, and that a very limited quota be issued for use in making nasal drops and for making ephedrine injections.
Lt-Gen (retd) Mahmud Ahmad Akhtar
Published in The Express Tribune, September 9th, 2012.
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