« Swing and a painful miss | Main | Feeding the politicians »

August 01, 2005

Please, lawmakers, spare us the Do Good bills

Still true: Illogic reigns when a legislature sets out to Do Good.

The Oregon Senate has approved a bill that would require anyone wanting to buy common cold and allergy medicines to have a doctor's prescription. Aimed at curbing the production of methamphetamine, a key ingredient in which is the pseudoephedrine found in many over-the-counter cold pills, the bill -- if it becomes law -- would create great inconvenience and expense for the overwhelming majority of the state's citizens.

Adding the cost of a visit to the doctor's office, or even the cost of a telephone consultation, to the few bucks the medicine costs will make it impossible for a lot of lower-income people to afford the relief. Those with insurance may not have to worry much about the bucks, until insurance rates to go to cover the cost of getting a doc to say, hundreds of thousands of times a year, sure, get some Sudafed, or whatever. That'll be $45 please.

There's a better way, of course. Lots of states, most recently Iowa, have passed laws requiring pseudoephedrine-containing medicines to be kept locked up behind a counter, and requiring purchasers to provide identification and sign a registry. That's an inconvenience but at least its not an expensive inconvenience.

Apparently it's effective, too. Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack said today that in the barely two months since the law went into effect, the number of meth labs found by police has dropped 75 percent from the same period a year ago. Other states with put-it-behind-the-counter laws report similarly dramatic drops in meth lab finds.

The Oregon House also has passed the prescription only bill, but there are some differences between it and the Senate bill. Maybe common sense will be one of the ingredients worked into the bill in conference committee.

Posted by jcb at August 1, 2005 02:38 PM


Prohibition never works in the long run. Iowa's "solution" just makes more work for the pharmacy staff people. Did they ask to be cops?

Posted by: Anonymous at August 1, 2005 03:12 PM