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Project STOP doesn't work: drug runner

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A current affairs program has raised questions over the effectiveness of Project STOP after the program's producer was able to complete a 'milk run' unchallenged.

Last night Channel 7's program Sunday Night aired a story about bikie drug operations in which a former member of the Bandidos bikie gang turned police informant said Project STOP was not hindering the methamphetamine trade.

"You could start at one point — let's hypothetically say Cairns, North Queensland - and you would travel to another point - Ballarat, Victoria.

"Let's say it takes you three or four days and you stop at every chemist along the way and buy a bottle of this or two boxes of that.

"You end up with 1,600 litres of cough medicine, 300 boxes of Sudafed."

To test his claims the program's producer toured pharmacies in outer Sydney asking for he most powerful pseudoephedrine cough mixtures. While ID was requested in most cases, the producer was able to purchase over two litres of cough mixture in just six hours.

Pharmacy Guild of Australia president Kos Sclavos said the story confirmed the need to make Project STOP mandatory. Currently the system is voluntary and its uptake has varied sharply across the states.

"It is time that all State and Territory jurisdictions mandated the use of Project STOP by pharmacies. This would ensure patients received a consistent professional approach from pharmacy staff and it would allow health and police authorities to capture all data regarding misuse and abuse of these products," Mr Sclavos said.

The Guild said it was unaware of the significance of the problem with liquid pseudoephedrine but would work with authorities to immediately address the issue.

"The simple fact is we haven't heard reports about cough liquids being a problem in Australia and there have been no liquid lab arrests reported to us. If it is confirmed cough liquids containing PSE are on notice, everyone across pharmacy will be vigilant," Mr Sclavos said.

The PSA has urged pharmacies that are not part of Project Stop to immediately register with the program.


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