Friday, February 24, 2012

Oregon Pseudoephedrine Legal Fail

This is not a surprise: "Oregon's Prescription Requirement for Cold Medicine Has Little Effect on Meth".

From the article:
Since 2006, the state of Oregon has had the strictest pseudoephedrine laws in the country. The popular decongestant, a common additive to over-the-counter cold and allergy medications, is also used to make black market methamphetamine. As meth use soared and volatile homemade meth laboratories proliferated in the early 2000s, many states began to put restrictions on the sale of the drug.

The most common such restriction was to move the medications behind the counter, and require customers to show identification before purchasing them. But Oregon was the first state to require a doctor's prescription to purchase cold and allergy medication....
However, the law has done little to restrict the production of illegal drugs, while imposing unnecessary burdens on legitmate users of pseudoephedrine:
A trip to the doctor requires a fee for an office visit, transportation costs and missed time from work, all of which can be especially burdensome on parents. The Cascade report points out that the hassles associated with visiting a doctor likely cause many patients to seek less effective treatment or no treatment at all, resulting in a longer recovery and lost productivity.

One 1992 study published in the Journal of Law and Economics found that the increasing availability of over-the-counter cold and allergy remedies prevented 1.6 million annual doctor visits. That number would likely be much higher today if all states had Oregon's law, resulting in higher health care costs, lost productivity, and lost time for doctors who would be spending time with sneezy patients that they could be spending with those suffering more serious illnesses.
The article also describes other "unintended consequences" of the anti-pseudoephedrine campaign.

(Read the full text of "Oregon's Prescription Requirement for Cold Medicine Has Little Effect on Meth".)