For those of us in the know in the pharmacy world here in Missouri, a new piece of legislation has come into the lime light. Media coverage, polls and consumers have spent a good deal of time focusing on the issue in recent weeks.
What is the issue, anyway?
The Missouri legislature is considering a couple of bills that would require that pseudoephedrine drugs (common, over the counter, or OTC, cold medicines, mostly) become a Schedule III controlled substance which would mean anyone going into a pharmacy to relieve cold symptoms must have with them a prescription to receive the medication.
Currently, a person in Missouri who desires a cold medication can buy them OTC at a pharmacy without a physicians approval. They must document their purchase within the pharmacy in a “logbook” that is variably checked by law enforcement to track methamphetamine users who have logged their name in other pharmacies.
The problem that law enforcement in Missouri runs into is that many of the methamphetamine labs and methamphetamine users come from individuals who go from pharmacy to pharmacy buying up pseudoephedrine products to create meth products (they call this “smurfing” pharmacies, jumping from one pharmacy to another to buy OTC drugs). The argument for this legislation would be that if you cut off the addicts from the source by requiring a prescription, you will snuff out the problem.
In 2008, the Missouri Legislature and the Governor signed into legislation a bill that would help reduce the problem by implementing a real time, electronic monitoring system used in every pharmacy in the state, similar to the system being used in Oklahoma. This would require that a patient fill out his or her information on an electronic system that would update law enforcement of their purchase immediately if they had purchased pseudoephedrine products in other stores within a relatively short amount of time.
Obviously, methamphetamine and it’s precursor drug, pseudoephedrine, are problems in the state of Missouri due to addicts and abusers of the product. But, to require a patient to receive a prescription for a normal, everyday OTC drug would be an unfair burden to the patient and would signify the end of the legislation that was passed just last year but was never given a chance for implementation because money was withheld from the program.
For more information on the issue and news and opinions from across the state, check out the links below:
1. Meth bill passes House committee
2. Editorial on the issue
3. Anti-meth bills too extreme
4. Missouri: Bill would require prescription for Sudafed
5. MO bill would require prescription for Sudafed
6. Anti-meth bill would penalize sick people, burden Doctors
7. Support, but no money for Mo. Anti-meth bill
8. Washington Missouri – Investigator Testifies in Favor of Tougher Anti-Meth Law