Moving PSE to Rx-only in Mo. lacks fiscal sense

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — The forward-looking vision employed by Gov. Jay Nixon in exploring “next steps” in fighting methamphetamine abuse before even the last step has been put into place and enacted is, in a matter of speaking, extremely short-sighted. It doesn’t even make fiscal sense, because the National Precursor Log Exchange will do more to curb many of the costs associated with fighting meth addicts without conversely increasing the costs associated with fighting a cold. And truth be told, there are probably a lot more stuffy heads in Missouri than there are meth addicts.

(THE NEWS: Missouri gov campaigns for Rx-only PSE legislation. For the full story, click here)

The costs associated with combating methamphetamine addiction are too large an issue not to influence some of these enforcement tactics. Because that’s what cutting off the source (PSE) to eliminate the problem (meth cooks) is supposed to do — reduce the number of meth cooks and thereby mitigate the exorbitant costs associated with fighting meth.

And those enforcement costs are significant. According to a Bureau of Environmental Health document, average meth lab cleanup costs in Oregon totaled $6,500 per 1,000 square feet of property, and that didn’t include the upfront assessment cost of $1,500. The Website of Nevada’s Attorney General, Catherine Cortez Masto, suggested actual total costs are far beyond calculation. Masto listed some 13 items that would have to be considered in tabulating such a cost, including the dismantling of those meth labs, the arrest, prosecution and housing/healthcare (by way of imprisonment) of any meth users and the assumption of care for any meth addict’s child.

That’s a good deal of budgetary line items that cuts across multiple state government disciplines — law enforcement, healthcare and social welfare to name a few.

The NPLEx solution helps identify those with a possible meth problem before they’re actually able to illegally convert that PSE into meth. Intercepting those PSE products before they reach that trailer park laboratory at the very least eliminates clean up costs. And that’s maybe the most controllable cost in the system, because making PSE products only available by prescription won’t reduce the number of meth addicts.

It’ll will only force them to go underground.

California can testify to that — before the practice of “smurfing” brought illicit PSE acquisition back to the states, drug dealers were sourcing bulk PSE from Mexico. It was when Mexico began cracking down on those bulk deliveries that stateside dealers domesticated the practice of smurfing.

Making PSE products available only by prescription would not only NOT mitigate enforcement/fallout costs, but also would significantly increase the costs associated with relieving the common cold. Adults average between two and four colds every year, and children between six and 10. If those patients actually did opt to go to the doctor for their sniffles, it both directly increases the cost of care (including those on the Medicaid rolls, incidentally) and indirectly impacts the quality of care as an already-overburdened doctor community will now have to squeeze cold patients into their schedules. 

And for those who didn’t opt to see a doctor, well they’ll either be less productive at work, or miss work or school altogether.

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