No anonymity for cold sufferers

metb4after.jpgOne of my first jobs was at a small town pharmacy, where some of the hard drugs were kept in a safe, and the most shoplifted items were razor blade refills and copies of Hustler from the newsrack (I knew one kid who’d slide a copy into the middle of the New York Times thinking we never noticed).

So I was surprised when I walked into a Hollywood Rite-Aid and had to ask why the Sudafed was behind the counter and locked behind glass.

The pharmacist, in his driest attempt at sarcasm, said, “Its because of all the meth labs in the middle of Hollywood.”

He continued, more honestly, to explain that it was State law – because pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in many common anti-allergy and cold medications, was also a main component to make “meth”, pharmacies were not only required to keep it locked up, but that anyone who wanted to buy a box had to show i.d. and sign a log.

“Not only that,” he added with a growl, “The police can come in anytime to see the log – no questions asked.”

Without a doubt, meth use has been epidemic in Los Angeles. While the streets of Hollywood are filled with addicts, I’ve known a handful of people who you’d associate with perhaps a higher class of drug that have fallen victim to meth addiction (included. a few years ago, one well know temp agent).

Perhaps in part due to the above mentioned restrictions on obtaining the key ingredients, the LAPD will be announcing today that there has been a dramatic decrease in the availability of methamphatamines in Los Angeles. The Daily Breeze reports more details, including the contrary finding that meth use among teenage girls appears to have risen in the same period.

As for privacy rights – I don’t know anyone who’s concerned they can’t buy their cold medication anonymously, but its still ground that should be treaded lightly.

…image from The Partnership for a Drug-Free America’s: Face of Meth

10 Replies to “No anonymity for cold sufferers”

  1. judging by that picture, it would seem that meth dries up your tears and gives you one of them fancy movie star updos. i’m sold!

  2. They’ve been doing this in Austin (and I assume the rest of Texas) for at least a year.

    As a constant allergy and sinus infection sufferer, it’s most annoying when you’re checking for a particular medicine that contains sudafed since you can’t always see what they’ve got hidden behind the counter. If there’s a long line at the pharmacy in a grocery store, for instance, you’re now forced to wait whereas before you could grab your drugs and head for the checkout. I also think they’re stocking less b/c of space restrictions behind the counter.

    Many drug manufacturers are releasing versions of their stuff with a sudafed substitute, but they seem like they’re less effective to me.

    This seems like one of those heavy handed approaches. Wasn’t limiting the number of boxes that you could buy enough? It’s my understanding you’d have to buy a crapload of the OTC stuff to make meth. Were they losing that much more to shoplifting?

    What a pain in the ass.

  3. I always send my husband to buy my sudafed. No sense leaving a paper trail with my name on it.

    When I was in college we could go to the school pharmacy and get a bottle of 250 sudafed for 60 cents … enough to get me through allergy season (this was before the swell antihistamines available today).

  4. It’s Federal law, the Combat Meth Act. It’s nationwide. It’s ridiculous.

    Anytime I’m at the pharmacist these days, I stock up on cold pills because last thing I want to do is wait in a gd line when I’m sick.

    I sleep better at night and feel much, much safer now having to give ID to buy Advil Cold & Sinus.

    This is not a red state/blue state or free state/nanny state issue, it’s the whole US of A.

  5. Indeed, Cybele – the shadowy cabal of Metroblogging censors is keeping an eye out for our safety.

    Tom: Indeed, its ironic that the closest place you can buy your Sudafed anonymously is in Mexico… where the meth labs are also conveniently located.

  6. I’d be willing to bet that we have even more of a meth problem up here in Washington than you do down there and a friend of mine in Iowa tells me that there are communities in the Midwest that are all but entirely blighted by the negative consequences of meth addiction. Prohibition didn’t make the US stop making, selling, distriubting and consuming alcohol and requiring people to sign away their privacy to buy some over the counter meds isn’t going to stop people from making, selling, distributing and consuming meth, either.

    I’m glad I rarely get colds.

  7. I’m concerned. I don’t like the idea that I’m a criminal by default. This is the same reason I won’t have my bags checked after purchasing items at any store. I managed to talk the guy behind the register at a CVS to let me slide on the “watchlist” back when they first put this into effect, but now its useless.
    I’ll stick to all natural remedies rather than subject myself to DNA scrapes and full body searches…..

  8. They completely ruined NyQuil because of this, even though it can’t really be used for making meth – the manufacturer didn’t want the product to be pulled off the shelf so it no longer has a decongestant of any kind. Also, the new versions of your old favorites (Sudafed’s on-shelf “Sudafed PE” for example) have a different type of decongestant that a) needs re-dosed every four hours, b) doesn’t work and c) affects blood pressure.

    The rationale for this law is that meth makers are usually users, and meth users are paranoid so they wouldn’t be willing to go through the rigmarole. You’re also limited in the quantities you can buy. I’m willing to bet there are no funds allocated to figuring out if it actually works…

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