Publisher's blog: What is the real impact of requiring pharmacists to supervise the sale of ephedrine-containing OTC products? Care to comment?

July 13, 2007

My take on this law is that it is another futile attempt by our government to try to fight a forest fire with a garden hose. In speaking with some of my colleagues who are on the front lines both in the pharmacy and in law enforcement, the conclusion is that the problem has not abated; the alternative sources of precursor chemicals are plentiful, allowing clandestine labs to produce plentiful amounts of high-quality meth, making it available to virtually anyone who wants or needs it.

September 13, 2007

Publisher's commentary on psuedoephedrine blog

Thanks to all of you who took the time to weigh in on this topic…In reading all of your responses, it seems that most of you feel the way I do--that pharmacists' time is not valued by anyone other than pharmacists themselves. And why should we expect that anyone, especially our government, to understand the risks associated with taking time away from all your other important tasks that require your undivided attention?

I think I am on safe ground to say that there is no way that the government will be able to stop the production of meth by placing the implementation of this stupid law on the backs of pharmacists. It hasn't worked and will not work!

This situation and others like it reminds me of a scene from the movie "Network News" where the anchor screams, "I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore."

My question to you is will we see a renamed version of that movie playing in 56,000 pharmacies in which more than 100,000 pharmacists start running out into the aisles and start yelling, "I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore!" Do you have any names for that movie and would you see yourself playing a role?

July 13, 2007

The Congressional law, Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005, which requires pharmacists to supervise the sale of OTC drugs containing ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, and phenylpropanolamine, to keep them behind pharmacy counters, demand identification and sign-in of buyers, as well as limit purchases to no more than 9 grams per 30-day period, has not curtailed the production of methamphetamine, nor has it reduced the number of abusers.

My take on this law is that it is another futile attempt by our government to try to fight a forest fire with a garden hose. In speaking with some of my colleagues who are on the front lines both in the pharmacy and in law enforcement, the conclusion is that the problem has not abated; the alternative sources of precursor chemicals are plentiful, allowing clandestine labs to produce plentiful amounts of high-quality meth, making it available to virtually anyone who wants or needs it.

Granted that the law may have limited the most easily accessed and most readily available commercial source for the illegal manufacture of meth, still I have not seen nor heard from law officials that it has reduced the spread of this epidemic one iota.

This law places an additional burden and distraction on R.Ph.s, who I believe you would agree are already stretched to the max. Our professional moral compass requires us to act responsibly on this matter, but does it raise the risk of creating other unwanted and dangerous results, such as a rising risk of Rx errors?
This law could be changed so that store clerks could be trained to manage the checking and signing for these products…In fact, technology platforms should be created that allows for a database that could track and identify individuals whose purchase patterns suggest abnormal behavior. In fact, the July 23 issue of Drug Topics features a story on this emerging technology that is being used to overcome the often time-consuming and tedious manual recording of the information that is required by this law. Look for Reid Paul's article, entitled "Pseudoephedrine control moving on-line."

Keep in mind that dextromorphan is most likely to be the next pharmacist-supervised purchase due to its growing use and abuse by teens…

I am interested to hear your thoughts and ask you to share them with your colleagues via this blog. Thanks.