Thursday, October 13, 2005

Pharmacies punishing children

Crystal Meth.

That single phrase has struck fear in many communities and has become the current battle-cry for drug enforcement.

But it has also made us brain dead once again - and I'm not talking about from use of the drug. I'm talking about our new 21st-century tradition of knee-jerk reaction and regulation. Anything that can be, or has been, abused by anyone, in any form, is suddenly prone to over-zealous regulation.

I could go off about the stupidity of pundits equating the abuse of drugs (like oxycontin) by addicts to its legitimate uses for pain control. But I'll leave that for another day. Instead, I want to discuss our amazing loss of cognitive ability when it comes to protecting ourselves against the few who abuse.

For example, patting down an 85 year old African American woman in a wheelchair (and making her get out of her wheelchair!) in the airport after we've had four airplanes highjacked by young middle eastern men belonging to an islamic terrorist cell. How about the removal of shoes and articles of clothing of a 2 year old caucasian child and the dismantling of his stroller while his very middle class mother with two other children is forced to watch this amazing act of ignorance unfold. Oh, don't get me rolling down that path...

But now we're back to crytal meth. Or more precisely, one of its main ingredients: Pseudoephedrine HCl.

Over the weekend, my 3 year old son got sick after dinner with flu-like symptoms and so at 7:30 pm I trekked down to my local Walgreens for some children's cold medicine. He needed something to help him breathe and sleep.

But what did I find when I arrived at Walgreens? Every cold medicine available, which all happen to contain some level of Pseudoephedrine HCl, was locked up behind the Pharmacy counter - which, of course, closed long before 7:30. At least 60 products were advertised on the shelves, and all were unavailable. The only thing I was allowed to purchase was cough syrup.

I'm sorry, did I miss something in Chemistry class?

Okay, I will accept the fact that pure Pseudoephedrine HCl tablets should be controlled and locked up. They are directly used in homemade crystal meth labs (a typical crystal meth recipe - easily found on the internet - calls for two hundred [200] 60mg Pseudoephedrine HCl tablets). I don't have a problem with locking these up at all.

But Children's Tylenol Plus chewable tablets? Give me a friggin' break!

Let's do some math. A single chewable tablet has 7.5mg of Pseudoephedrine HCl, not to mention being filled with three other active ingredients that do not go in crystal meth. That means to get the 12,000mg required for the batch you'd need 1600 tablets, or 67 boxes - at a cost of over $400.

And lets' not forget that to use these, our little crystal meth chemists will need to somehow use their magic to separate the Pseudoephedrine HCl from the other ingredients of each tablet. Yeah, right - I see Ma and Pa Meth pulling that one off.

And even if they could, lets go one better shall we. How about the liquid versions of these childrens cold medicines? Not only do Ma and Pa have to break the compounds down, but now they have to distill them as well.

Huh? Are we this stupid?

Is someone really going to do this? Is someone going to buy 67 bottles of liquid children's cold medicine. Can someone who's doped up and working with 2-litre pop bottles and sterno cans actually use this stuff to make crystal meth?

I want to see proof! But, I don't think there is any proof.

No, all this does is once again hurt the average American citizen by an industry over-reaction. Whether it's government or corporate induced doesn't matter - it's a trend that has to stop. Rational and logical decision making at some point needs to re-enter our daily lives.

Unfortunately, in this current case, the only people affected by this new corporate policy are law-abiding parents and their sick children.

And I thought that's who we were trying to protect.



At 8:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank goodness -- I thought I was the only person who thought like this. I was floored when I recently had to tell the pharmacy assistant at Walgreens my date of birth in order to be allowed to buy an 8 oz. bottle of Robittusin CF (kept behind the counter) for my cold.

At 6:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pharmacies punishing children, let's see what you say when they let the regulations down and your child suffers from addiction...

At 10:03 PM, Blogger N.J. said...

To anonymous #1 (who was "carded" for cough medicine): Yes, it's amazing the lengths we'll go to establish policies that have absolutely no benefit - just so someone can say they're "doing their part."

To anonymous #2: Wow, thanks for that well thought out comment. And thanks for proving my point as to how utterly clueless some people can be.

At 7:54 AM, Blogger N.J. said...

Oh, and by the way... that 8oz bottle of Robitussin CF that we're "keeping out of the hands of the abusers"? Well you'd need more than 500 bottles of it... and the multimillion dollar facility to extract the Pseudoephedrine HCl from the liquid... just to make one home-made batch of meth.

Yeah, we're really protecting people here...


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