A War on Drugs or An Attack on Cheap Medicines?
Prescription Mandate for Some Cold Medicines Stirs Controversy
Note – This interview was recorded prior to the 2013 Legislative session. The proposal to require a statewide prescription mandate was, again, filed in this session.
(St. Charles, MO) – “Just Say No” is an easy encouragement to make when we’re talking about hard drugs like cocaine and heroin, but what’s the right answer when we’re talking about common, over-the-counter cold medicines?
Those aren’t “hard drugs” but some of them are used to make methamphetamine – one of the most-abused illegal drugs in Missouri. To combat the production of meth, some communities now require a doctor’s prescription to buy any medicine with pseudoephedrine in it, even though those medicines are legal, over-the-counter remedies for common symptoms of colds.
That means it costs more to get the medicines because you may have to go to the doctor and go through a pharmacy instead of simply tossing the medicine into your shopping cart along with the bread and soft drinks. Your purchase will also be tracked by law enforcement.
Supporters of the idea generally acknowledge the extra inconvenience and privacy implications but say it’s worth it and we should all be willing to compromise a little to help stop meth in Missouri.
Efforts to impose a statewide prescription requirement have not succeeded in the State Legislature in recent years, so Jason Grellner is taking that proposal local.
“When you can talk to people, have time to explain the issue, they find the solution very easily and they’re willing to move on the solution very easily as over seventy communities around the state now have.”
That solution, though, could cause problems for other, law-abiding folks. Joy Kreiger is with the St. Louis chapter of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation. She’s also a nurse and says parts of Missouri ranks among the worst places in America when it comes to dealing with allergies.
That’s why she doesn’t want her patients having any additional hurdles to clear before buying what’s already legal.
While law enforcement says the inconvenience of a prescription mandate is no big deal, Kreiger says it could cause problems especially for the poor and that could become something that impacts everyone.
“For those who don’t have insurance, they will then go to the emergency room. Our emergency rooms are already being abused as clinics. So, we’re overburdening them…”
The proposal to require a prescription statewide for pseudoephedrine-based medicines does not appear to have the support to pass this year.
On the web:
Missouri Narcotics Officers Association: http://www.mnoa.com/
Stop Meth Not Meds: http://stopmethnotmeds.com/
Missouri House Bill 991: http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills131/sumpdf/HB0991I.pdf