Letter: Requiring prescription wrong path to take

To the editor:

As an Indiana licensed pharmacist with more than 40 years of experience in both the health care and pharmaceutical industries, I have prepared this communication to express both my concern and frustration with the proposal before the Indiana legislature to require a prescription for the decongestant pseudoephedrine (commonly known as Sudafed).

Pseudoephedrine is commonly used to relieve stuffy noses and ears due to colds, allergies, etc.

At issue is that pseudoephedrine can be utilized as a chemical precursor in the illicit production of methamphetamine with the logic that requiring a prescription would reduce or eliminate methamphetamine in the illicit market. Unfortunately the world of science is not always this simple or straightforward.

In scientific literature (dating back to 1900) a large number of chemical pathways have been identified that required no pseudoephedrine at all to make methamphetamine.

Therefore, the production of methamphetamine is not dependent on the availability of pseudoephedrine. This is currently being demonstrated by the “meth superlabs” that make commercial quantities of high-quality methamphetamine at a low price which will likely dominate the illicit market in the near future.

On the other hand if a prescription is required for the sale of pseudoephedrine it would represent a very significant penalty in cost, availability and congestion misery to thousands upon thousands of Hoosiers and their children who use or are administered the product for congestion relief.

At the same time, requiring a prescription would likely further enrich the organizations involved in the illicit production and distribution of methamphetamine.

Surely with the talent and ingenuity available in this state, we can address the challenge of illicit methamphetamine without penalizing the vast majority of honest and hardworking Hoosiers just trying to relieve their or their children’s congestion.

Steve A. Stilwell