Quick Hit: Regulating Pharmaceuticals

February 4, 2014

The effort is now under way in the Indiana Legislature to further restrict the sale of products containing ephedrine/pseudoephedrine (PSE). That is a key meth ingredient found in the most effective over-the-counter decongestants that afford relief to Hoosiers who suffer from asthma, sinus and other nasal disorders.

Meth is a growing problem in Indiana and a major source of concern to local governments. Mayors and their police chiefs are frustrated by the manpower and dollars they devote to coping with the problem. They want the Legislature to impose a requirement that PSE products may be purchased only with a doctor’s prescription.

PSE products are designed to treat a medical condition that afflicts tens of thousands of Hoosiers and are the most effective product for such treatment. While the meth problem is real, so too is the pain and suffering of those who depend on these medical products.

Advocates argue that a prescription requirement would be no more than an “inconvenience” for users of PSE products. That may be true for those who have a family doctor and can obtain a prescription over the phone. That is not true for the low- or no-income segment of the minority population, and it is not true for a large number of working people who do not have family doctors. For these people, a prescription requirement would be a significant burden and expense: find a doctor, get off work to see the doctor, pay the doctor and get your pay docked for missing a half day of work.

Punishing the law-abiding citizen to inconvenience the criminal is beyond the pale. Imposing a prescription requirement for a safe, effective, non-addictive medical product is unnecessary and unwise. The Legislature should just say no.

Tom Charles Huston

The author is retired from the private practice of law. He served as an officer in the United States Army assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency and as associate counsel to the president of the United States.



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