Self-Service Psuedophedrine

Salon reports on the efforts of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores to get lawmakers to enact federal legislation requiring any product containing psuedophedrine (including many varieties of Sudafed and Nyquil) to be sold from behind the counter by a licensed pharmacist or ‘pharmacy personnel’. All this, to prevent a tiny number of black market chemists from purchasing the OTC drug to make methamphetamine- despite the fact that most meth is smuggled in, not domestically produced.

Looking a little close, there are two very good reasons for this particular organization to support such legislation. The first is that, as representatives of multi-state chains like Target and Wal-Mart, they would rather comply with a single federal law rather than a slew of local laws. Expanding federal power to control the sale of a legal substance, used without incident by thousands of citizens every day is just more convenient for them then letting localities- some of which may have the sense to not place silly, pennywise restrictions on psuedophedrine sales- decide what works for the local community.

Secondly, by requiring pharmacy personnel to dispense the drug, they kick their non-pharmacy competition out of the market. Today, you can walk into an airport convenience shop, a gas station, a retail or wholesale store, or a pharmacy-less grocery (like most groceries that aren’t owned by large national chains) and buy psuedophedrine off the shelf to treat your allergy or cold symptoms. No more if the proposed federal legislation is adopted. You’ll be required to seek out a licensed and qualified pharmacy, like the ones run by these national chains. Good luck finding a chain with a pharmacist on duty after 5:00 PM. You can kiss your emergency late-night cold medicine runs goodbye. Once you’ve arrived at an authorized pharmacy, you’ll be subject to strict purchase restrictions:

You: I’d like to purchase this psuedophedrine.
Helpful Pharmacist:Were you planning on using it to make methamphetamine in your bathroom?
You:Yes. I mean no.
Helpful Pharmacist:Well, off you go then.

Thank goodness that the National Association of Chain Drug Stores is looking out for us all.

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