PSE's Rx-only switch in Arkansas opens a new can of worms

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — The latest Arkansas proposition to control PSE sales may deliver the biggest blow to the over-the-counter accessibility argument, as it restricts sales to Arkansas residents who have a state-issued picture ID and who don’t look like they might be meth addicts. It also is no more fair or effective to have pharmacists decide who looks like a meth addict and who doesn't. Worse, the bill includes a provision that would allow the Arkansas Board of Pharmacy to color any OTC medicine with the same brush as PSE.

(THE NEWS: Arkansas PSE bill could spark fresh debate. For the full story, click here)

And that really opens a can of worms, because now dextromethorphan is being lumped together with PSE as “the other” OTC ingredient with a high abuse profile. Never mind that the issues surrounding each of these ingredients couldn’t be more disparate. And never mind the fact that the OTC industry voluntarily has stepped to the plate with paid-for programs to address each of these issues. Creating a streamlined rulemaking process absent any public stake in the outcome could place a whole host of appropriate OTC medicines in jeopardy — acetaminophen, for example, or nicotine-replacement therapy — just because the local newscasters stress the sexier headlines outlining the high-risk profile as opposed to the “less-than-sexy greater-benefit-versus-that-risk” storyline.

That aside, out-of-towners who are a bit under the weather are still out of luck if they want to buy a PSE product in the great state of Arkansas, if this bill becomes law, because pharmacists can only sell to those with an Arkansas-issued photo ID. The sole exception to that are military IDs; pharmacists can take those, too.

And if you’re sick and in search of some ready congestion relief, you may want to consider taking a quick shower and fixing up your hair before you go cold-remedy shopping. Because if you go into a pharmacy in Arkansas with bed head and the pharmacist mistakes you for a drug addict, well, you won’t be able to buy PSE then, either.

The only good news to come out of this proposed legislation is for law enforcement — real-time tracking of PSE purchases is still in play, and that means law enforcement still has a tool to identify the real bad guys in all of this — the actual meth cooks.

Except not all law enforcement sees this as good news. And that’s unfortunate, because as Arkansas Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery testified, real-time electronic tracking works. The problem for some in law enforcement may be it works too well — fingering highly-likely meth addicts means an increase in meth lab busts. And how exactly do you propose to show progress in the war on meth if the number of your meth lab busts is on the incline as opposed to on the decline?

Login or Register to post a comment.