HEALTH

Arkansas PSE bill could spark fresh debate

BY Michael Johnsen

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — SB 437, a bill passed Wednesday by the Arkansas House by a vote of 60-31, introduces a number of new issues to the debate on whether or not pseudoephedrine and similar ingredients should be sold behind the counter or by prescription only.

For starters, the bill — supported by the Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy — would restrict the sale of pseudoephedrine products in Arkansas to residents and military personnel only — out-of-state patients, even those who live in another state but work in Arkansas, would be unable to purchase PSE products.

Second, the bill includes a provision that would allow the state board of pharmacy to add additional nonprescription medicines to be included as part of this legislation without having to pass additional legislation. The provision was included with dextromethorphan in mind, associating DXM with the same abuse potential as PSE. After public hearings, “this would allow the board of pharmacy … to do the same thing with a product like that that’s being abused — to put it back where a pharmacist has to sell it — and we don’t have to ban it from the marketplace,” testified bill sponsor Sen. Percy Malone, D-Ark., who also is a pharmacist and pharmacy owner.

Finally, the bill not only restricts the sale of pseudoephedrine to behind a pharmacy counter, but to be sold/dispensed by pharmacists only — not pharmacy technicians — and at their discretion.

On these grounds, Tim Koch, Walmart health-and-wellness division director of pharmacy regulatory affairs, communicated the Bentonville-based retailer’s opposition to the bill before a House committee on Tuesday. “It places pharmacists unfairly into the role of law enforcement — to make a decision, ‘Yes, I am going to dispense this.’ or ‘No, I’m not.’ ‘Yes, you are sick.’ [or] ‘No, you’re not [sick], you’re a drug abuser,’” he said.

Walmart steadfastly supported a separate bill put forth by Rep. Marshall Wright, D-Ark., 51st District, that would classify PSE products as prescription only. Wright’s bill did not make it out of the Arkansas Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee on Tuesday.

The PSE bill will go before Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe.

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Dulcolax maker sponsors CCA’s fashion show

BY Michael Johnsen

ST. LOUIS — To help promote the third annual St. Louis Undy 5000 5K run on March 26, the Colon Cancer Alliance is introducing the “Parade of Undies” fashion show, sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim, the maker of Dulcolax products.

Rather than wear race-day t-shirts, participants will wear specially designed boxer-style shorts, providing a fun way to bring attention to a serious disease. American fashion designer and colon cancer survivor Carmen Marc Valvo will serve as one of the judges.

“St. Louis has become a mainstay for the Undy 5000 due to the community’s overwhelmingly positive response to this event,” stated Andrew Spiegel, CEO of the Colon Cancer Alliance. “Each year the run attracts more and more people to help us bring more awareness to colon cancer and the importance of screenings to help save lives.”

The Undy 5000 — a family-oriented event open to all ages — is held in cities nationwide to educate the public about colon cancer, promote screenings and encourage people to talk about the disease. The event raises funds to support and build the CCA’s national and local patient support and public awareness programs. In addition, a portion of the funds raised from the St. Louis Undy 5000 will be distributed locally to fund services for those diagnosed with colon cancer. In addition to the 5K, there will be a 1-mile family fun run.

The Undy 5000, created by the CCA, stresses the importance of timely colon cancer screening, and also provides valuable information for those already affected by the disease. Walgreens serves as St. Louis’ local retail sponsor. Additional national sponsors include the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, Genentech and Salix Pharmaceuticals.

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Report: Arkansas House passes pharmacist-only PSE bill

BY Michael Johnsen

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas House on Wednesday passed a bill that would restrict the behind-the-counter sale of pseudoephedrine to pharmacists only. In other words, pharmacy technicians no longer would be allowed to sell products containing PSE.

The measure by state Sen. Percy Malone passed 60-31, according to published reports.

The bill is a victory of sorts, as the Arkansas Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee on Tuesday spent several hours debating whether or not PSE should be sold only with a prescription, as proposed by a bill put forth by Rep. Marshall Wright, D-Ark., 51st District.

The bill also mandates that pharmacists are to decide whether the customer has a medical need for the drug.

According to reports, law enforcement was split on the issue — some suggested a prescription-only status would be a crucial tool to eliminate methamphetamine production. Others suggested the current state tracking system helped investigators identify potential meth cooks and addicts. A prescription requirement would eliminate that ability, they argued.

The bill goes to Gov. Mike Beebe.

Click here to check out what this PSE bill means for Arkansas.

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