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Pseudoephedrine Ban Pushed in Four Missouri Counties

sudafed pills.jpg
Sudafed could become presciption-only in four Missouri counties.
Feeling sniffly? If you live in St. Charles or Franklin county, before you get your hands on some Sudafed, you could soon be required to see your doctor and get a prescription first.

County officials there tell the St. Louis Post-Dispatch they have enough votes to pass a ban on pseudoephedrine unless customers have a prescription from their physician. Similar efforts are underway in Lincoln and Jefferson counties, too.

In addition to being the most effective decongestant on the market, pseudoephedrine is also a key ingredient in the home-made crystal meth so popular in Missourah. Law enforcement officers have been pushing for a law statewide that would make pseudoephedrine a controlled substance -- and therefore available by prescription only.

But despite backing from Governor Jay Nixon, and passage in the Missouri House, the state Senate balked. At least one senator, Republican Rob Schaaf, vowed to fillibuster rather than allow the measure to go to a vote.

In light of the counties' willingness to take the action that the state refused, it's worth remembering some of the key arguments made by Schaaf, who in addition to being a politician, is a part-time family physician.

As we reported in March,

by making Sudafed and other pseudoephedrine-based products "a controlled substance" under the law, that moves them into a class of drug where many physicians would be reluctant to prescribe them over the phone for sick patients. (Penicillin, for example, is not a controlled substance, so even though customers need a prescription to get it, their family doctor is usually willing to call in the 'scrip without an office visit. Not so with how the proposed law would treat pseudoephedrine.)

"You can get away with calling in a controlled substance from time to time," Schaaf says, "but the state board takes a dim view of physicians not seeing people who get a prescription for controlled substances." During flu season, he predicts, doctors' offices would be packed with sick people, waiting to see an MD just to get their hands on medication that is now widely available.

"Insurance premiums will go up," he predicts. "It will cost the state. Do you think doctors are going to call in prescriptions for Medicare patients without seeing them first?"

We're not saying meth isn't a problem in Lincoln County, or St. Charles, or Franklin, or Jefferson. But we are suggesting that maybe our county officials might want to think this through.

Does making a drug prescription-only really take it out of the hands of people who would abuse it? And is the benefit here really worth the cost?

(For what it's worth, Daily RFT's uberblogger, Chad Garrison, has a much different take than your humble fill-in correspondent. He's on vacation, but he's back next Monday. So if this position seems reprehensible, well, give us the weekend: This blog may officially change its mind soon.)


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5 comments
Sas100069
Sas100069

If the database doesn't work then a ban certainly will not work. This is plain stupid. I got a prescription from my doctor in a month cost me 65 dollars in 36 cents. When I was able to get it over the counter it cost me 2 dollars and 68 cents. Not tell me what kind of sense this makes. Who is the 1 that is really paying for this us the consumers not the people making the drugs. I give props to the official that held out and will vote for him because he has some common sense.

Rudy Moore
Rudy Moore

The chefs will just smurf from the surrounding counties. Good thing that statewide database has worked out so well.

Matt Hay
Matt Hay

I am with you on this one Sarah. I think Senator Schaaf is spot on. Also, you never see the pro-Pseudoehpedrine forces mention that Ephedrine and Phenylephrine can both be reduced to meth just as readily as well, and are both readily available on the internet, and the case of phenylephrine, at your local store. In fact, Ephedrine was once the preferred ingredient, until the FDA started cracking down on its use in supplements, and pseudoephedrine just became the path of least resistance and cost. The only thing this will do is increase insurance costs, wait time to see a physician, and disproportionately affect the uninsured. The forces behind this ban are taking a myopic view in my opinion. 

jdub
jdub

Prescription only has worked well with pain meds so we can all sleep easy at night knowing that the meth problem has been solved.

Matt Hay
Matt Hay

Same guy, Jason Grellner, that pushed the database is now pushing the ban. 3 years ago, he said the database was a panacea, now that didn't work and the ban is now the panacea. Odd thing about all of this is that after the database went into affect, arrests went up. There has been no study I have seen done into the cause of that increase. Is that because there are more cooks, or that the database is working as a tool for law enforcement, so they are better able to make arrests for manufacture? Another thing many forget with this suggested legislation, as soon as this requires a prescription, it falls under HIPAA, and law enforcement cannot touch the records from the pharmacy legally without a court order, or any pharmacy that turns them over risks violating Federal Law. This has not been thought through entirely.....

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