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Precautions if you stock rubbing alcohol compound or isopropyl alcohol in your pharmacy

March 19, 2013

ACP has received reports of individuals being admitted to emergency departments with alcohol toxicity, having consumed rubbing alcohol compound and isopropyl alcohol purchased from pharmacies. Further inquiry has identified several concerns.

Rubbing alcohol compound and isopropropyl alcohol are prone to abuse, both by ingestion and in the production of illicit substances. Of immediate concern is that:

  • Labelling of many products does not clearly indicate the potential for toxicity, even though they are labelled “for external use only,”
  • Pharmacies do not consistently store alcohol products in an area where sales can be monitored, and
  • Businesses with pharmacies have not trained staff to monitor sales where indications of abuse might be present.

ACP recommends that pharmacies control and monitor the sale of rubbing alcohol compound and isopropyl alcohol products. We are recommending that pharmacy licensees take the following preventative measures:

  • Store all rubbing alcohol compound and isopropyl alcohol products in the dispensary or immediately adjacent to the dispensary with Schedule 3 drugs so pharmacy staff can monitor sales;
  • Do not promote these products through “sale” events or other promotions; and
  • Train pharmacy and front store staff about the potential for abuse of these products, and when to refer individuals to the pharmacist before completing a transaction.

ACP recognizes that there are other products containing high quantities of alcohol sold in pharmacies that are prone to misuse or abuse. Please monitor the risk and trends in your community, and take reasonable measures to prevent misuse and abuse.