Should Pseudoephedrine be Prescription Only?


Pseudoephedrine has been the subject of state and national debate for the past several decades, as the use of the product has been linked to the manufacturing and distribution of methamphetamine, more commonly known as meth. Various legislative attempts have been enacted in the past to limit the manufacture and sale of meth, all with some degree of success. Unfortunately, those who made meth became more creative and began using over the counter medications containing pseudoephedrine to produce the highly addictive drug. One of the biggest problems with this is that now the needs of patients who legitimately need the medication to control allergy and cold symptoms must be weighed against the need to keep the product out of the hands of those who would use it to produce meth. There are currently two options that have shown success: a drug registry and making products with pseudoephedrine available by prescription only.


Many states started requiring pharmacies and stores who sold products with pseudoephedrine to keep the product behind the counter or in a locked cabinet so the sales could be more closely monitored. Some states require(d) each pharmacy to keep a physical log of the who bought those products and now many states have a digital log patients must fill out that is stored in a central database to prevent people from going from one store to the next buying the maximum amount from each. As these measures have expanded, they have become increasingly effective, but many think they are still not effective enough.

Prescription Only

States such as Mississippi and Oregon found that their problem with meth production and distribution was so great that the registry option was not adequate. Instead, they passed legislation to require a prescription for all medications containing pseudoephedrine. According to law makers in those states, this step has all but eliminated production and distribution of meth in their states and there are now proponents trying to make this a national law. However, the pharmaceutical industry is strongly opposed to these measures and is lobbying consistently to prevent such legislation from passing.

Patients v. Drug Dealers

The real question for those in the medical field is which is more important – patient accessibility or preventing the manufacture and sale of an illegal and dangerous substance. Ultimately, the needs of the many must outweigh the convenience of the few. While there are patients who genuinely need pseudoephedrine to live normal lives due to extreme allergies, they are in the minority. Methamphetamine is a dangerous drug that is cheap and easy to create. Because of this many small drug labs, often run by parents, are scattered throughout the nation. These labs put the children who live where the drugs are being produced in danger and then further endanger those who use the drug. Ultimately, it may hurt sales for pharmaceutical companies and make it less convenient to get medications for legitimate use but if that reduces the nation’s dependency on the drug isn’t it worth a little less profit and convenience?

Do you think products containing pseudoephedrine should be prescription only?


2 comments on “Should Pseudoephedrine be Prescription Only?”

  1. No, I think it is uncalled for that someone with a runny nose, itchy eyes etc should be forced to pay to see a Dr/PA. Instead I think the same system should be put into place, that is currently active in all our states (I think) for narc type pain meds, that can cross reference if someone fills a script in 1 state/city/place and then tries to do it again at a different location.
    Sure people can get their neighbors friends etc to get the pills for them but not near enough for it to be worth the bother.
    This is one of those areas that does not have to be black or white – it needs to be gray. Beth 🙂

  2. NO ONE who would want to make this substance prescription-only goes through hayfever hell like I do! Primatine mist inhalers have now gone to prescription only. Thankfully, I don’t need to use them but once in a blue moon. I think that measures like this show we’re not in a war on drugs, we’re in a war on people who don’t have health insurance. I don’t have it and I’m very healthy despite my allergies, so I’m OK for now. I really feel for others who don’t have the insurance and need it because of measures like this.

    Also, it’s not really the kids who buy the drug to “cook” who are the problem. Larger producers who do the real damage already have ways of procuring higher quantities in better quality.


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