The drug cops want everyone to share their mission. They think that doctors and pharmacists should catch patients who abuse painkillers — and that if the doctors or pharmacists aren’t good enough detectives, they should go to jail for their naïveté.
This month, pharmacists across the country are being forced to lock up another menace to society: cold medicine. Allergy and cold remedies containing pseudoephedrine, a chemical that can illegally be used to make meth, must now be locked behind the counter under a provision in the new Patriot Act.
Don’t ask what meth has to do with the war on terror. Not even the most ardent drug warriors have been able to establish an Osama-Sudafed link.
The F.D.A. opposed these restrictions for pharmacies because they’ll drive up health care costs and effectively prevent medicine from reaching huge numbers of people (Americans suffer a billion colds per year). These costs are undeniable, but it’s unclear that there are any net benefits.
In states that previously enacted their own restrictions, the police report that meth users simply switched from making their own to buying imported drugs that were stronger — and more expensive, so meth users commit more crimes to pay for their habit.
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