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I just wanted some cold medicine

Yesterday, I was at Target and I needed to buy some cold medication. I already knew that the pharmacies don’t keep any medicine that has pseudoephedrine on the shelf any more, in order to prevent people from buying it in bulk and using it in meth labs or something.

Instead of just tossing the box of pills in your cart, now you have to bring a little card for the medicine you want up to the pharmacy counter. Easy enough, I thought. So I get there and they ask for my driver’s license. Then they type the name and address from my driver’s license into the computer. Now I’m mad. Then they drag out this log book and make me sign for the pills. What could possibly be the point of all of this? If people are so afraid of bulk purchases of pseudoephedrine, I can see the store asking people why they’re buying, oh, ten boxes of generic cold medication. I was buying ten pills. Is all of this data uploaded to some centralized system? Are they worried that people are going to hit every drug store in town buying one box of pills at each? How much does crystal meth sell for anyway?

I was ready to blame Target for overzealous enforcement of some incredibly lame regulations, but the North Carolina Board of Pharmacies consumer FAQ indicates that all of the steps I went through are required regardless of where you buy pseudoephedrine.

I care a lot less about the plague of crystal meth than I do about moronic regulations that get everyone used to being treated like a criminal. When I read that Congress is spending less time in session than ever, it’s laws like this that make me think that’s maybe not such a bad thing. (I know that this is a state law, but you get my point.)

7 Comments

  1. There was only 1 “No” vote against this bill.

    http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2005&BillID=H248

    I’m sure that the supply of Meth in NC has dropped. NOT!

  2. The Meth Epidemic is just now hitting the east coast with it’s full force. It’s scary stuff and you will probably see worse laws in the future.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/meth/

    As for Congress, I would submit that the type of people in congress would give you a better correlation on bad laws and not so much the time they spend there.

  3. Crystal Madness

    http://www.portlandmercury.com/portland/Content?oid=37797&category=34029 http://www.wweek.com/editorial/3220/7368/

    Which is to say it’s being whipped into a nice old fashioned “epidemic.” (ZOMG!)

  4. If it makes you feel any better, new studies indicate most cough medicines don’t do squat.

    Unfortunately that won’t stop the zealots from draining what few remaining rights we have in the name of “safety”. Considering the meth epidemic is a direct consequence of the “Drug War”, I wonder what the unintended consequences of the “Cough War” will be?

    http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/060420/nethfns1.html?.v=10

    BOSTON, April 20 /PRNewswire/ — Americans spend $3.5 billion annually on over-the-counter cough remedies. Experts say much of this money is wasted. Guidelines released by the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) earlier this year indicate that many of the “active” ingredients in cough remedies may be ineffective, reports the May issue of the Harvard Health Letter.
  5. I encountered this infuriating situation last year… wrote about it at http://blogs.salon.com/0000014/2005/03/01.html

    John Tierney has a good column in today’s Times on the same topic.

    http://select.nytimes.com/2006/04/25/opinion/25tierney.html

    (I guess that’s a “select” URL, for paying readers…)

  6. This is soon going to be a national law, thanks to the efforts of Missouri’s congresscritters. I have stopped buying pseudoephedrine rather than sign my name to the possible-criminal list. And don’t doubt that’s what it is, to be cross-referenced when deciding whose Internet traffic to evesdrop on. I hate that these last few years have turned me into a conspiracy nut…

  7. At the risk of making a terribly outdated post, this is national law under the PATRIOT Act. Restrictions on pseudoephedrine purchases along with signed logbooks went onto the books earlier this year, though the article below says they will not be legally enforced until September. Stores are already getting started. These were part of the PATRIOT Act extensions.

    Cold pills? Sign here. [northjersey.com]

    I bought one pack of decongestants with pseudoephedrine under the new ID/address/sign-here doctrine, and it will be my last.

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