E-tracking is the right prescription for U.S. meth problems

January 15, 2011

The states that are looking for ways to stop illegal sales of pseudoephedrine should be commended. But a prescription requirement for cold and allergy medications that customers rely on every day is bad public policy that will have an unnecessary impact on many patients.

Key Points

With nearly 9,000 meth-lab incidents occurring nationwide in 2009 alone, there is no doubt that our nation's illicit production and use of methamphetamine needs to be stopped. And while I applaud the states that are looking for ways to stop illegal sales of pseudoephedrine (PSE) - a key ingredient in illicit meth production - as a pharmacist, I feel that a prescription requirement for cold and allergy medications that my customers rely on every day is bad public policy that will have an unnecessary impact on many of my patients.

PSE is the key ingredient in leading cold and allergy medicines such as Advil Cold & Sinus, Claritin-D, Sudafed, Mucinex D, and Zyrtec. For well over 30 years, PSE has provided convenient, safe, and effective treatment of congestion due to colds, allergies, and sinus problems. It is pharmacologically different from other decongestants on the market, and for many consumers, it is the only decongestant that works. In fact, many of my customers are among the 15 million consumers who rely upon timely access each year to these cold and allergy medications containing PSE.

Today, it is clear that tougher enforcement is needed nationwide. Of the 14 states that have adopted measures to stop the illegal sales of pseudoephedrine, only 2 states - Oregon and Mississippi - have opted to make PSE medications available by prescription only. The remaining 12 have opted for implementation of an electronic tracking solution that stops illegal sales before they happen while allowing nonprescription access to those who rely on these medicines.

As a pharmacist in Tennessee, I am hoping that my state and federal legislators will seize upon this opportunity to control illegal PSE sales, at no cost to the retailer or to the state. And when considering the needs of your own patients, I hope you will join me in this appeal to have e-tracking implemented as a far better alternative to a prescription mandate.

The opinions expressed by guest editorial writers are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Drug Topics' staff or the staff of Advanstar Communications.

Tim Tucker is a pharmacist in Huntingdon, Tenn., and former president and member of the board of the American Pharmacists Association. He currently serves on the board of trustees of the Tennessee Pharmacists Association.