Give tracking a chance

Monday, December 6, 2010

I support law enforcement in doing what needs to be done to effectively address the methamphetamine problem in our community. However, requiring the citizens of Cape Girardeau to go to the doctor to obtain a prescription for over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine is the wrong way to fight methamphetamine.

A move to require a prescription for these medications will not solve the methamphetamine problem, but it will burden consumers with significantly higher costs to get needed medications by forcing them to go to the expense and inconvenience of unnecessary doctor's visits. It also will prevent consumers from quickly treating a common cold or chronic allergies with their preferred medicine.

Along with neighboring Iowa, Illinois and Kentucky, Missouri has just implemented an alternative solution that will stop illegal sales of pseudoephedrine without burdening consumers with unnecessary doctor's visits. All four states will be on the same computerized tracking system, with real-time information provided to pharmacies.In addition, Oklahoma and Arkansas have similar systems that could potentially share data.

By requiring the citizens of Cape Girardeau to obtain a prescription for medicines containing pseudoephedrine, the city council will create a hole in the tracking system making it far less effective. Prescriptions for pseudoephedrine products will not be subject to any purchase limits and will not benefit from the real-time tracking and blocking of illegal sales.

With many of its border states on the same or similar computerized tracking system that blocks illegal purchases, Missouri is uniquely poised to have success with this system. At this time, there are still a number of pharmacies in Missouri that are not on the system because they are not required to be on the system until the end of December. Members of law enforcementhave stated that this system will be a highly effective tool for law enforcement in the fight against methamphetamine.

The best course of action would be to let this computerized blocking system realize the benefits of full implementation rather than imposing an unnecessary government mandate on law-abiding citizens, many of whom are already struggling with the rising costs of health care and deep shortages in primary care physicians.

Kimberly S. Price is a lawyer in Cape Girardeau.

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