NEW YORK The ultimate impact in allowing local municipalities to regulate what’s prescription and what isn’t, will more than quadruple the price of nonprescription medicines, and not just decongestants. And that’s outrageous.
While the actual price increase may be hard to pin down, the fact that OTC medicine costs will go up across the nation isn’t too far a stretch. Allow these regulations to stand, and local politicians the nation over will feel emboldened to introduce legislation requiring a prescription for, say, aspirin, because one of their constituents, an ill-advised parent, fed their fevered baby an aspirin product despite the warning label. Or legislation that’d require a prescription for dextromethorphan, because another constituent never talked to his or her children about drug abuse and was shocked to find the phrase “not my child” failed to protect them.
And that’s not too far a stretch. Back in 2003, then-Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich signed into law the sales ban of ephedra, because that was the ingredient that allegedly caused the death of high school athlete 16-year-old Sean Riggins the fall before. And while ephedra soon after was pulled off the market by the Food and Drug Administration, that’s the only agency that should have been making the decision in the first place. The Illinois legislation was pushed through because of the heartbreaking death of a young boy. The FDA’s decision was made on account of thousands of adverse event reports associated with, in this case, ephedra. And Riggins was only one of those adverse event reports.
So the danger in allowing local regulators to craft legislation determining what’s sold with a prescription and what’s not would create a complex distribution system not only for PSE, but potentially for any OTC medicine that may be associated with an adverse event. It’s a potential distribution system that would create a de facto third class of drugs — MPOTCs (mixed prescription/over-the-counter drugs), where 43% of the nation’s counties have determined that aspirin is dangerous in the hands of parents who don’t bother to read the drug facts label, or 38% of the nation’s counties have determined that voluntary age restrictions on the sale of dextromethorphan coupled with marketing campaigns urging parents to talk to their children about drug abuse simply is not good enough.
Where would the line be drawn?