Patients oppose OTC-to-Rx switches for pseudoephedrine drugs, survey finds

AAFA calls switches wrong solution to meth epidemic

WASHINGTON — Patients around the country "strongly" oppose laws that have been proposed to change popular OTC drugs to prescription-only, according to a new survey.

The survey, conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, polled 2,020 adults in January who had asthma, allergies, cold, cough or flu in the past 12 months and who had purchased OTC drugs for at least one condition during that time.

Results of the survey found that 62% opposed OTC-to-Rx switches for drugs, with more than 18 million households in the United States depending on OTC drugs containing pseudoephedrine to relieve common symptoms. Lately, some states have sought to make PSE drugs Rx-only in an attempt to combat the manufacture of methamphetamine, for which the drug is a key ingredient.

"The data shows us that patients already deal with the burdens of these chronic diseases, so adding restrictions on top of the burdens they already face would be a real problem," AAFA VP policy and programs Charlotte Collins said. "And they feel the best way to stop criminals involved in the illegal meth trade is through law enforcement and other proven methods, not by doctors' prescriptions."

The survey also found that 64% of patients say they're managing medications for two or more people in their households, while patient households deal with allergy symptoms for more than two months per year. One-in-five patients can get in to see a doctor the same day, with 22% having to wait more than a week to get an appointment, and patients say 42% of their visits to the doctor require time off of work, with 31% saying their doctor visits always take place during work hours. Including drive time, time in the waiting room and the visit itself, only one-in-five patients surveyed spend less than an hour when visiting the doctor, with nearly one-third requiring two or more hours per visit, and 9% requiring three or more hours per visit. Fifty-nine percent of patients surveyed spend at least $20 per doctor visit, plus 4-in-5 of them paying to fill prescriptions frequently or occasionally for themselves or family members.

"Patients are really concerned about extreme local laws that limit their freedom to access meds," Collins said. "AAFA is working with patients nationwide to teach lawmakers about better solutions. We want to make sure the patient voice is heard."

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