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Consumer Group Advances Alternative to Prescription Mandate

FRANKFORT, Ky., Oct. 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) today urged members of the Kentucky General Assembly to adopt a new tool in the fight against illegal methamphetamine production and abuse, the Meth Offender Registry Block List.  The block list would prevent convicted meth offenders from purchasing medicines containing pseudoephedrine (PSE) –medicines like Advil Cold and Sinus, Allegra-D, Claritin-D, Mucinex D, and Sudafed—without a doctor's prescription.  

The Meth Offender Registry Block List would prevent convicted meth offenders, including convicted "smurfers," from purchasing PSE at the point of sale.  A 2010 draft report from the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission estimates that the system would block 5,500 known criminals from purchasing medicines containing PSE.  This compromise solution protects the rights of law-abiding Kentuckians, while closing the net on criminal drug offenders.

"Implementing the Meth Offender Registry Block List, which will soon be in use in Tennessee, will strike right at the heart of the problem – the criminal meth cook," said Carlos Gutierrez, director of state government relations for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA).  "There is no need to unfairly punish law-abiding consumers when we have an option to block the criminals whom we know are committing the crimes."  

CHPA understands the scope and complexity of Kentucky's methamphetamine problem and thus is offering a common sense approach that will give tools to law enforcement to punish criminals without impacting workers and families.  The meth problem presents a difficult challenge: how do we stop criminals without unfairly punishing law-abiding Kentuckians who simply wish to purchase and use a legal and safe product?

This challenge is made greater by the creativity of criminal drug peddlers and addicts, and demands a collaborative effort between lawmakers, law enforcement personnel, the healthcare community, the pharmaceutical industry, and local retailers to protect the rights of citizens to purchase a safe and effective product.

"CHPA remains opposed to the proposed prescription mandate for legal, FDA-approved, cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine," said Gutierrez.  "We believe the facts are clear on why this is the wrong solution.  Requiring a prescription for these common, over-the-counter medicines would further tax an already overstretched healthcare system, increase costs, and impose difficult burdens on law-abiding consumers."

Many in Kentucky, including law enforcement agree that requiring a doctor's prescription for PSE is not the right solution.  

"Kentucky, like many other states, continues to struggle with a serious meth problem, but as a 38-year veteran of law enforcement I do not believe that making common cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine available only by prescription is the right solution," said Daviess County, Kentucky Sheriff Keith Cain.  "At best, this measure will only obscure the problem without addressing the root cause – criminal drug makers and addicts.  As another on the front line of the meth war, I think it is particularly important that we use our best resources to identify the criminals.  In my opinion a prescription mandate will not help us win the war on meth; it will only shift the battlefield."

Kentucky medical professionals also disagree with the prescription mandate and point to several key facts that illustrate why it is the wrong solution.

"Requiring a doctor's prescription for cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine is simply not the answer to Kentucky's meth problem," said Dr. Donald Neel, an Owensboro pediatrician and community activist.  "It won't work.  It will however cause serious unintended consequences, including a dramatic increase in the number of visits to doctor's offices that will further stretch an already overburdened Kentucky healthcare system.  Further, I do not believe it is fair to burden legitimate patients with additional costs when criminal drug addicts are the real problem." 

Kentucky consumers and families feel the same way and have consistently voiced their opposition to the prescription mandate for PSE.  

"As a mother of six who is frequently forced to deal with my family's colds and allergies, I would hope that Kentucky legislators listen to the consumer voice and find a way to punish criminals, not us," said Pat Davis, homemaker and mother of six in Boone County, Kentucky.  "Requiring a prescription for the cold and allergy medicines families depend on would not only cost mothers like me more time, but more money too.  There has to be a better way to address problems with criminal drug addicts other than burdening legitimate, law-abiding, consumers.  Punish the bad guys, not my family."

CHPA is the 130-year-old-trade association representing U.S. manufacturers and distributors of over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements.

SOURCE Consumer Healthcare Products Association
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