Some cold, allergy medicines could soon be prescription only

10:05 PM, Feb 13, 2013   |    comments
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East Tennessee is one of the worst places for allergies in the country, but the medicines many of us use for relief could soon be available by prescription only.

It's all because of Tennessee's meth problem. Right now, pharmacy customers who want to buy pseudophedrine products have to show their driver's license. But law enforcement officials say that hasn't helped the meth problem. They say the law has only created a cottage industry of people using stand-in buyers and fake IDs to get the drug.

Now, they say it's time to make cold and allergy medications with pseudophedrine prescription only.

"And I think there comes a time in the state when we've got to tell the pharmaceutical industry that you've made enough money at the peril of the citizens of the state of Tennessee," said Mark Gwyn, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Greeneville Representative David Hawk filed legislation within the last month.

But not everyone wants prescription-only pseudophedrine. The pharmaceutical industry says the change would only hurt those who really need the medicine.

"We're concerned about the cost they would incur having to go to the doctor's office, take time off of work, pay a copay at the doctor's office and pay a copay at the pharmacist. So it's no longer about convenience, it's about actual cost," said Carlos Gutierrez with the Consumer Healthcare Products Association.

Some lawmakers believe there could be  a compromise by limiting the amount of pseudophedrine someone can get without a prescription.

They plan to have a task force work on a potential alternative, but many law enforcement officials are adamant about making all sales prescription only.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America is urging Tennessee lawmakers not to restrict over-the-counter allergy medications.

In a statement Wednesday, the foundation's president and CEO said, "While all sides of this debate are committed to winning the war on meth, we believe that a prescription requirement is the wrong approach and would impose significant burdens on patients and families."

The foundation says 71 percent of patients in a 2010 study also opposed prescription-only pseudoephedrine.

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