Ellen Smith for Oak Ridge Rotating Header Image

Doing my bit to keep methamphetamine ingredients out of the wrong hands

I am glad that the law requires pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) to be kept behind the pharmancy counter and that purchase quantities are limited (currently federal law limits purchases to to 3.6 grams per person per day, or 9 grams per person per month). News reports say that the restrictive laws have reduced the number of illegal meth labs. That’s a good thing.

However, I have my doubts about the way the law is being implemented. With the winter cold season upon us, today I went to the Kroger pharmacy to pick up some 12-hour pseudoephedrine, which helps me avoid waking up in the morning with a nasty sinus headache. I asked for 2 10-packs of 12-hour pseudoephedrine (at 120 mg per pill, that’s 2.4 grams).

This was my first experience buying this medication since the new federal law went into effect. The new law is stricter than Tennessee’s previous law.

I filled out a form, then waited at the counter for about 10 minutes while the pharmacy tech studied my driver’s license and communed with the store’s computer system. Finally she came back to tell me that the computer would let me buy only one package of 10 pills, due to the daily limit of 3.6 grams. (But note that one package is just 1.2 g, which is just one third of 3.6 g).

After waiting so long already, I didn’t argue. I paid the grand sum of $1.65 (plus tax) for my purchase and headed off to pick up a few groceries. But I wonder what was going on. Did someone else with my name buy pseudoephedrine at some other store today? Or is Kroger just over-reacting? (If a 3.6-g limit is good, a 1.2-g limit must be even better…) Whatever the reason, the amount of time that the pharmacy and I expended on my small transaction (while a line formed outside the pharmacy area) was excessive. Unfortunately, the same thing is likely to happen again when my 10 hard-earned pills are gone. There must be a more efficient way to accomplish the worthwhile objectives of the law.

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2 Comments

  1. Netmom says:

    I’ve had the same thoughts. When a bad cold hits every member of a family of six, like mine (and the kids can’t buy their own Sudafed)… the daily limit is just inadequate.

    Unfortunately, the newer substitute decongestants just don’t work very well, if at all.

  2. Ellen Smith says:

    Ouch! The daily limit could definitely get to be a problem with a large family. I’m sure that your family, like mine, keeps a supply of various cold medicines on hand “just in case,” but that supply won’t last long when the whole family is sharing the same bug.

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