Ephedrine is currently controlled in Ireland as a drug precursor under EU drug precursors legislation and as a prescription medicine under the medicines legislation.
Drug precursors are chemicals that are primarily used for the legitimate (legal) production of a wide range of products, such as medicines, perfumes, plastics, cosmetics etc. However, they can also be misused for the illicit (illegal) production of drugs such as methamphetamines, heroin or cocaine.
Ephedrine is a substance that, whilst it has legitimate uses, is also known to be used in the illegal manufacture of narcotic or psychotropic substances. As a consequence, there are control systems in place that require an operator to be licenced to possess and import it.
The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) is responsible for ensuring that operators within Ireland who manufacture, supply, possess and/or use precursor chemicals operate in compliance with European legislation for certain activities. The Health Products Regulatory Authority is responsible for;
- licensing of operators
- registration of operators
- import/export authorisations
- annual reporting to the International Narcotics Control Board
- inspection of operators within Ireland
Ephedrine may also be present in an authorised medicine, in which case it is supplied to a patient through a pharmacy or in a hospital. Every authorised medicine includes a Package Leaflet which provides detailed information on safe use of the medicine for patients, carers and other members of the public.
The HSE maintains a detailed online resource regarding drug misuse and the effects that drugs can have on human health. The HSE also provides funding to drugs.ie, Ireland's national drug information and support website which provides a comprehensive range of information and supports related to substance use.
The HPRA is responsible for monitoring the safety and side effects of authorised medicines. The Authority regularly runs campaigns and workshops to ensure that the public are made aware of any safety issues concerning particular medicines.
It should be noted that the Department of Health works closely with other Government Departments and agencies to address the wider effects of drug misuse.