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Say No to RX-Only

While 30 states have determined that real-time, stop-sale technology is the best solution for both consumers and law enforcement, Oregon and Mississippi have enacted prescription-only mandates for over-the-counter medicines containing pseudoephedrine (PSE).1 Oregon’s law has been in effect since July 2006, and Mississippi’s law went into effect on July 1, 2010.

Supporters of prescription-only mandates often point to Oregon’s reduction in meth labs, but the fact is, a number of other states have also achieved similar results without placing an expensive burden on legitimate consumers who want and need convenient, affordable access to PSE medicines. Ten states have seen 90 percent or greater reduction in meth labs since 2003.

In fact, a recent study by the Oregon-based Cascade Policy Institute examined their state’s prescription mandate and found that it has not been responsible for a decline in meth labs there. According to the study, Oregon’s meth-lab decrease closely mirrored similar declines in six neighboring states. The greatest percentage of recent declines, moreover, came before the 2006 Rx-only law was enacted.2

Underscoring the failure of this policy, new statistics from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 2015 High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Report show that meth abuse has actually increased since Oregon implemented its Rx policy for PSE. According to the DEA, the volume of meth confiscated in Oregon has grown dramatically since 2007, meth-related arrests have nearly doubled from 2009 to 2014 and the number of fatalities related to meth use rose to an historic high of 123 deaths in 2013.3

Prescription mandates impose new costs on consumers and the healthcare system while offering none of the law enforcement benefits of real-time, stop-sale technology. Prescriptions are a healthcare function, not an effective law enforcement mechanism, as shown by the widespread and growing diversion and abuse of prescription medicines.

Under a Prescription Mandate:

  • Consumers bear new costs for repeated doctor visits and prescriptions.
  • Consumers without insurance are hit even harder.
  • Healthcare payers are either forced to bear new costs or leave consumers on their own to cover all the costs associated with acquiring PSE through a prescription.
  • Current non-prescription sales limits no longer apply, so meth cooks can purchase unlimited amounts of PSE with a prescription.
  • There is no system for real-time blocking of illegal sales for prescription drugs.
  1. AL, AZ, DE, FL, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MI, MO, NC, ND, NE, NV, OH, OK, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA,VT, WA, WV.  
  2. http://cascadepolicy.org/pdf/pub/Oregon_Meth_Law.pdf
  3. http://media.oregonlive.com/marijuana/other/2014/06/2015%20Oregon%20HIDTA%20Threat.pdf