Alexandria, VA - April 13, 2010
In an effort to reduce the use of pseudoephedrine in the production of illicit methamphetamine, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation to change the status of pseudoephedrine-containing products from over-the-counter (OTC) to prescription. Oregon has made such a switch and Mississippi will require prescriptions starting July 1. Today, the U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control held a hearing with Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Co-Chair Charles Grassley (R-IA) to examine the ramifications of a federal solution and receive input from relevant affected parties in dealing with this issue. In response, the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) issued a statement expressing its opposition to the potential federal remedy by explaining, "Making pseudoephedrine a prescription product will have the detrimental effect of unreasonably burdening patients who rely on their local community pharmacists to provide timely access to beneficial OTC medications, including the counseling services that allow patients to make the right decision on which therapy will best suit their symptoms." However, NCPA, recognizing the serious concerns from local, state and federal politicians and law enforcement officials, included an alternative approach: "As an alternative to prescription status, efforts that allow for electronic tracking of OTC medications containing pseudoephedrine have been adopted in several states to fight illicit meth production while maintaining access to these products. "When considering expansion of electronic tracking systems, it is imperative to realize the fact that approximately 35% of independent pharmacies do not have point-of-sale capabilities to log sales transactions and would have to utilize the Internet instead. This approach is oftentimes not conducive to pharmacy workflow and OTC sales. "In addition, as over-limit sales are denied at point of purchase of the pseudoephedrine product, community pharmacists and their staff are placed in a potentially dangerous situation of having to deny sale of the product. Even though opportunities may exist to override the transaction, this still puts the burden of determining whether a potential criminal can obtain pseudoephedrine on the pharmacist. Simply stated, community pharmacists should not be put in the position to serve as OTC drug police. "Lastly, consideration must be given to the cost of implementation of an electronic tracking system on pharmacy operations. We expect the manufacturers would bear the full short- and long-term cost of developing, maintaining, updating and installing the systems in pharmacies. This has to be a long-term commitment, and cannot be an unfunded mandate on community pharmacies." The entire statement, which further explains the concerns with the Oregon and Mississippi approach can be viewed here. The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA®) represents America's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 22,700 independent community pharmacies, pharmacy franchises, and chains. Together they represent an $88 billion health-care marketplace, employ over 65,000 pharmacists, and dispense over 40% of all retail prescriptions. To learn more go to www.ncpanet.org or read NCPA's blog, The Dose, at http://ncpanet.wordpress.com.
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