As if the California government hasn’t done enough to increase misery and suffering through tax increases and budget cuts, last week they took the initiative to do it in a more direct fashion. The state Senate approved SB 484, a bill that once signed into law would make pseudoephedrine, the only truly effective decongestant component of cold medications, available only as a prescription medication.
The motivation as most people already understand is that pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient in the illegal manufacture of methamphetamines, so measures reducing its availability may discourage people who can’t easily obtain it from making their own drugs.
What many people don’t know about is that pseudoephedrine’s over-the-counter replacement, phenylephrine, simply is not effective taken as a pill or syrup which is how it’s most often packaged. Have you noticed your cold medication hasn’t worked worth a damn lately? Take a close look at the active ingredients list; most drug makers have quietly substituted phenylephrine for pseudoephedrine in their cold remedies.
Moreover, what the law’s proponents have so far overlooked is that addicts and the criminal elements who supply them are highly motivated. Making prescription-only a medication that would remain available over the counter in other states, not to mention more readily and cheaply from, say, Mexico, would have negligible impact on methamphetamine addiction. What the proposed law might instead do is shift the manufacture of meth to areas where pseudoephedrine is more easily obtained like, say, Mexico. (As if the Mexican drug gangs needed any more business and by extension, money and power…)
What the proposed law will certainly do is make effective cold symptom remedies more expensive and less accessible to law-abiding citizens, thereby generally increasing the level of suffering (since the common cold isn’t going away anytime soon)… One might plausibly speculate that there would also be some economic impact due to reduced productivity, with more workers immobilized at any given time by cold symptoms.
The bill is currently before the state assembly; Californians, contact your Assemblymember and let them know that this proposed law is a bad idea that needs to be nipped in the bud.
In the meantime, I’ll be stocking up on pseudoephedrine, just in case the law passes and forces cold-relief-seeking citizens to become drug smugglers.