I have been hearing a public ad on the radio concerning a new law some lawmakers are trying pass that would require prescriptions for common over-the-counter (OTC) medications, mainly allergy and sinus medicines. According to stopmethnotmeds.com, this new law would aim to decrease the number of meth labs in the U.S. Medications being singled out, such as Claritin-D®, Mucinex®, and Sudafed, contain pseudoephedrine (PSE). Using as intended, it is effective in treating and alleviating cold, allergy, and sinus symptoms. But, when combined with other household materials, will create the very deadly methamphetamine. The physical effects and addictiveness of meth is not the only issue; its manufacturing creates by-products that are harmful to the environment as well as humans. I used to work with septic systems, and we were always warned if an orange liquid was present in the tank, get away immediately. It meant the home had a meth lab inside, and fumes contained within the septic tank from the by-products could kill a person instantly. The production of meth commonly causes fires and explosions if the formula is not followed exactly. There was a story in the news here of a pickup truck that was a traveling meth lab. Can you imagine if the fumes had gotten to innocent bystanders or if there was an explosion from the truck? This situation just goes to show how creative meth makers can be as well as how easily it can be concealed.
There are regulations in place to try to avoid selling these common medications to the wrong people but more regulation needs to be in place to combat the loopholes in the system. You may have noticed these medications have been put in cases where access must be requested. There are also limits on the amount of medication one can purchase at a time. Stores are required to keep a log of purchases that can be made available to law enforcement, as needed. These are all good practices and have cut down on the success of purchases made with the intent to manufacture meth, but it is not hard to see how to bypass some of these requirements.
A few states have switched their purchase logs to an online system that can track purchases within the state, keeping the buyers from gaining access to the amounts needed to make the drug. Some lawmakers are trying to push a real-time online tracking system that can track state to state as well as instantly deny a person who has already bought the legal allowable amount. This would be an alternative to requiring a prescription each time the medicine is needed.
So, how does this affect you? Well, if the prescription-only law is passed you would have to make an appointment with your doctor every time your allergies or sinuses flared up and every time you came down with a cold. Not all doctors can see you that day, or even that week. So, you may have to suffer longer and in some cases, your cold may even be on its way out by the time you can see the doctor. Under the new Medicare bill, there will be no more copays on preventative visits. To my knowledge, this would not be considered preventative and would therefore require a copay. The insurance companies are going to have to either pay more to cover the doctor’s visits and prescriptions or leave the insured, you, to cover the bill. More doctor visits means more time missed from work and school. Getting a prescription filled is less convenient than buying over the counter due to pharmacy hours, wait times, and potential lack of inventory.
If the prescription-only law is passed, it will cut down on the number of successful purchases for meth production, but the online tracking system has the potential to be far more successful. How many doctors will simply call in a requested prescription instead of assessing the patient in office first? That is not to say they are crooked; some may do it because they are too busy or it is a Friday afternoon and they are trying to help the so-called patient. Dentist offices frequently receive calls right before closing with a story about a toothache and can the dentist just call in a prescription for a painkiller so they can relieve the pain for the night. Meth makers will still be able find ways to get the prescriptions even with this new law.
On the other hand, the online tracking system will take away those issues. It will be cut-and-dry. A purchase is made and is logged into the system. If the purchaser tries to go to another store, or even another state, to make a purchase, the computer will decline the transaction. The authorities will have less of a paper trail to follow and will have instant access to purchase records, multiple purchase attempts, and purchase quantities. Now, I am not saying this method will completely eliminate meth labs, but it is a more efficient and convenient system than requiring prescriptions for these medications.
To get more information on this subject as well as current state law, go to www.stopmethnotmeds.com. The site has information on where states are concerning this debate and how to contact the appropriate officials to make your voice heard.