Guest Column: Pseudoephedrine by prescription only not the answer in fighting meth issue
by By CATHERINE GLOVER President, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce
Apr 05, 2013 | 711 views | 0 0 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print

We can all agree on one thing: We must find a better way to fight the scourge of meth in our community.

The families shattered, the property destroyed and, worst of all, the emotional and physical scars on children are unacceptable. As a civil society, the question we must ask is, "How do we stop the lawbreakers without punishing law-abiding citizens?"

Those who say we must require prescriptions for decongestants that contain a key ingredient for meth [pseudoephedrine] are overlooking the tens of thousands of lawful Tennesseans who rely on these medications. They overlook the hard everyday realities that would result from making them prescription-only.

The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry is opposed to a prescription requirement, not just because of the serious ramifications it would have on small and large businesses, but also because of the severe burdens it would impose on law-abiding citizens:

n There is the working parent who must leave the factory floor to take a sniffly child to the doctor for a prescription, instead of simply picking up medication at the pharmacy after work.

n There is the senior citizen with flu symptoms who must find transportation to the doctor's office for a prescription instead of getting a relative to pick up over-the-counter treatment so he or she won’t get any sicker.

n There is the rural resident with allergies for whom a visit to the nearest doctor for a prescription is an all-day affair, while the pharmacy selling Claritin-D and Sudafed over the counter is just a few miles away.

n There is your neighbor without health insurance who cannot afford the copayment or the prescription.

Those are just some of the personal costs that a prescription-only law would carry. Prescriptions would be far more expensive, as much as $75 to $100 by professional estimates — and that is with health insurance. For uninsured families, it would place yet another burden on already strained budgets. For employers, the cost of group health coverage would rise if insurers even choose to cover expensive prescription decongestants. Additionally, Tennessee businesses would experience potentially millions of dollars in productivity declines, as thousands of employees are forced to take time off work for extra doctors’ visits.

In the end, however, we are all on the same side of the fight against meth. It’s a battle we can and must win. It's time to look at the realities and get together on constructive solutions. We firmly believe that Tennesseans deserve a balanced approach to the meth problem, and thank the members of the Legislature from this area who have taken just that approach.