When restrictions on pseudoephedrine were put in place a decade(!) ago and drug companies reformulated using phenylephrine, I noticed a marked decrease in effectiveness. It’s been worth the effort to ask the pharmacist for the real thing, which is still available behind the counter (at least in California), though you have to let the state track how much you’re buying, just in case they think you’re going to cross the Heisenberg threshold.
A new study confirms: phenylephrine just doesn’t work, at least not at the approved dosage.
But hey, at least no one’s making meth anymore, right? Right? 😕
A few months ago I discovered that medications containing pseudoephedrine were labeled “restricted quantity items” at the local Sav-On because it can be used to make meth. Today I found that the shelf space that used to hold both brand-name Sudafed and the store brand now holds cards which direct you to the pharmacy. The boxes aren’t actually in the pharmacy in this store, they’re in a case up front, but the cards are pre-printed, and they say to go to the pharmacy.
Meanwhile, Sudafed has come out with a new formulation that isn’t based on pseudoephedrine. Yes, I know. I mentioned it to Katie and she asked whether they called it “…” We started trying to come up with names like “Sudasudafed” or “Quasifed” or “Notfed.”
They’ve got too much invested in the name, of course, so it’s the less-creative “Sudafed PE.” The store brands have caught up already, but it’s new enough that I could not find any reference to it on Pfizer’s website [archive.org: July 12, 2005]. A quick trip to Google turned up the Sudafed FAQ [archive.org: Dec. 10, 2005], though, which is currently all about the new medication.
The last time I bought Ny-Quil, there was a remark on the receipt about it being a restricted quantity item. At the time I assumed people were abusing it somehow, but I never got around to looking it up.
Now I know why. Apparently, pseudoephedrine can be used to make methamphetamine, and some states are considering further restricting sales of over-the-counter drugs like Ny-Quil and Sudafed—making people ask a pharmacist, for example, so sales can be tracked more easily. (At present, California only restricts the quantity bought in a single purchase, which is completely non-intrusive to people who just want to breathe comfortably for the next week.)
Y’know, I have no problem with limiting the quantities purchased (as long as the limits are reasonable), and I can live with standing in line at the pharmacy if I have to—but some of the suggestions are to require you to “show identification—and even enter [your] addresses in a law enforcement database.” Excuse me? What do the police care if I have a cold? New! More government scrutiny of your life, brought to you by the War on Drugs(tm)!
As to the likely success of this effort, consider this quote Continue reading →