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Middle-Aged Claritin Fiends Stalk City

It's come to this: On a recent Saturday night, the wife and I and another couple got our jollies by subverting the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005. In service of my friend Joe's need for Claritin, the four of us took our places in the queue at the Dupont Circle CVS drug store, waited our turns and then, one after the other, purchased the maximum permissible number of allergy pills, an act that now requires asking a clerk to provide the nostril-clearing goodies, showing ID, and signing a logbook that is supposedly monitored by police.

Yes, middle age is a grim time of cheap thrills and pathetic diversions.

My man Joe is not widely known for his nefarious acts. He's a lawyer who has devoted his career to fighting for people who've been wronged by their employers or government. But he, like millions of other Americans, suffers from allergies, and in an act of selflessness that I would never in a million years consider, he now takes a Claritin every day so that his family can have a cat in the house.

But the days when he could pop over to Price Club and buy an industrial-sized bucket of Claritin are over. Thanks to a panic over methamphetamine addiction in some parts of the country, Congress has ordained that all over-the-counter drugs containing ephedrine, pseudoephedrine and other chemicals used to make meth must now be sold from behind the counter. In addition, the feds limited any buyer to one package of Claritin-D per day and three in any given month. Amazingly, there are now cases of ordinary allergy sufferers being hauled off to jail because, for example, they bought some extra Claritin for their son to take with him to church camp.

The odds of such a thing happening in the District seem pretty remote, though the clerk at CVS did say that Metropolitan Police officers have been known to stop in and have a look at the logbooks. That possibility did not, however, cause the CVS clerks to do anything but chuckle as four consecutive customers maxed out on Claritin.

The logbook system is, of course, silly. It's about as effective and efficient a way of screening for bad guys as the bizarre habit that's developed since 9/11 of looking at visitors' IDs as they enter all manner of public buildings. The logbooks are likely as packed full of phony names as Mayor Tony Williams' petitions were in his reelection campaign four years ago.

Experts on meth addiction say the drug is so widely and easily available, and its ingredients are so easy to get from elsewhere, that these restrictions do little more than inconvenience ordinary allergy medicine consumers, while giving congressfolk the chance to claim they've taken action against a wave of addiction to an illegal drug.

After our CVS adventure, we wandered across the street to Krispy Kreme, where there were no federally mandated limits on the number of donuts we could purchase. Not yet, anyway.


By Marc Fisher |  December 20, 2006; 8:17 AM ET
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Comments

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ROFL, I love it. I agree though, these laws really do nothing but make it more inconvenient for the people who truly need it.

Posted by: Ryan | December 20, 2006 9:34 AM

Claritin isn't the issue. It's the pseudoephedrine in some versions of it. You can legally buy as much regular claritin as you want.

Posted by: Greg | December 20, 2006 9:38 AM

The part that I hate the most about this new system is that if I do need to buy Sudafed because I or someone else in my family is sick, and it's after the pharmacy hours (or god forbid, a holiday) in any place that sells it, I'm out of luck. Not every area is fortunate enough to have a 24 hour pharmacy, just so they can go through this mother-may-I process to purchase a legal OTC drug. Sheesh.

Posted by: CallMeSkeptical | December 20, 2006 9:42 AM

As recently as four years ago you could buy bottles of straight ephedrine from a gas station (aka "Trucker's Speed"). Those sure helped on long drives and all-nighters.

Posted by: Those were the days | December 20, 2006 9:44 AM

Yep, just like the 'fluid restrictions' on carry-ons, this another absurd sham so a politician can point and say "We're trying!". Meanwhile, the real meth producers are importing raw ephedrine by the barrel.

Posted by: Chris | December 20, 2006 9:44 AM

Lets see, Marc is ok with straw purchases to evade drug laws so what does he think of straw purchases to evade gun laws? How many people died from meth last year vs handguns?

Posted by: Woodbridge Va | December 20, 2006 9:46 AM

Beware - donuts contain transfats. They may become illegal soon - stock up now.

Posted by: Silver Spring | December 20, 2006 10:07 AM

Thank you for writing the funny. I have only written these humor pieces in my head, while i stand in lines.

I think i am manage to stay current on news of all sorts but I was not prepared for feeling like a criminal for needing my 30 day Claritin-D supply. Regular claritn is not an option because i require the decongestant. First, i had to pick it up from the pharmacy. Then I could no longer buy more than one ten-day package at a time, now I have to do all of those things, plus show id. Intellectually, I understand there is a meth problem and all of it. I don't understand how this new 'system' does anything more than inconvience the 99.5 percent of those who depend on these medications and use them legitimately.

Posted by: ccc | December 20, 2006 10:13 AM

Excellent question from Woodbridge VA about comparing death rates for firearms vs meth. Here's the answer: The last year for which the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control have numbers in both those categories is, unfortunately, 1994. In that year, there were 38,505 deaths in the United States by firearms, and 433 deaths from methamphetamine use. (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0764212.html
and
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3225/is_n2_v53/ai_18028360)
Completely different scales. Of course, meth use is widely reported to have ballooned in the past decade, so let's look at more recent numbers:
In 2003, there were 30,136 deaths by firearms, the CDC says. There don't appear to be any nationwide numbers for meth for that year, but there are statewide numbers, and in some of the states reporting the biggest problem with meth, the death numbers for 2003 are in the 20-100 range. Even if we were to extrapolate across the country at the absolutely highest possible rate, we'd still come up with a gross number topping out at about 5,000--so we're talking about a problem that is a tiny fraction of that posed by firearms.

Posted by: Fisher | December 20, 2006 10:17 AM

And in VA, they actually ask to see your driver's license when you buy anything with pseudoephedrine in it, so no phony names in those log books! It nakes me wish I took a prescription allergy med instead of Claritin-D.

Posted by: pentagon city person | December 20, 2006 10:20 AM

I recently bought Advil Cold & Sinus from a downtown CVS. I actually wanted another product, but it turned out they were sold out. Not that there's any way to tell that until you get to the front counter. (The drugs were kept behind the front counter, not in the pharmacy.) I didn't have to show ID or sign any kind of log. So really, there weren't any security measures, just inconveniencing me by making me choose a new product with people lined up behind me. These "security" measures seem pretty useless, just ending up annoying sick people.

Posted by: Jen | December 20, 2006 10:21 AM

Ref: Krispy Kremes. Oh great, Marc's on a sugar high now!

I get my Claritin at the local Giant. For the time being, I don't have to register for it. I guess my trusty nasal spray will be next on the hit list.....

Posted by: WB | December 20, 2006 10:22 AM

Careful, soon you may need to start signing a trans-fat log for your Krispy Kremes.

Apropos of nothing, the 'substitute' decongestant that's replaced pseudoephedrine in so many cold and allergy meds is awful. I might as well be taking sugar pills (or Krispy Kreme donuts) to clear out my head.

Posted by: JM | December 20, 2006 10:38 AM

Ha. Ha. Hi-larious. The crackdown on OTC sales has made a huge difference out in the rural areas where meth has devastated entire towns. Go ask some small-town sherriff. So you have to go through a little inconvenience. Small price to pay. Get over yourselves and look at the big picture.

Posted by: Country John | December 20, 2006 10:53 AM

Same experience as Jen - my downtown CVS keeps it stocked up at the front counter. Besides the incredible inconvenience of this system, it seems that every retailer is only stocking about 5-6 packages of every brand. Before it went restricted, under lock & key, behind the counter...you could find it 20 deep on the shelves. Now, whether I'm at CVS, Target, or Wal-Mart, they always seem to be out of the Sudafed I'm looking for. In VA, they also scan the barcode on my driver's license to record my purchase. Not sure what information is stored there, but do I really need Target collecting it?

The larger question of course being, is this really curbing the illegal use of meth or not?

Posted by: Sniffling | December 20, 2006 10:54 AM

I dont think Mr. Fishers flippancy here is warranted. Did anyone else see the Frontline about meth aired earlier this year? Heres an excerpt from their web site: Why is meth called an unnecessary epidemic? ...Unlike heroin and cocaine, which are distilled from plants grown across huge areas of Asia and South America, meth requires ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, two chemicals used to make asthma medications or cold and cough remedies such as Sudafed. Only nine factories in the world manufacture the bulk of the worlds supply of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. Tightening control over the supply of these chemicals has been pursued on and off over the past 18 years, but the regulations have contained loopholes which meth traders quickly exploited. Nevertheless, each time there have been new regulations it has made a real difference, as The Oregonians investigation showed: the drug grew scarce and rehab centers saw fewer meth patients... More at the Frontline/PBS web site.
So maybe limiting access to Claritin is a hassle. But if it saves lives, as this information indicates, why not do it?

Posted by: tamerlane | December 20, 2006 11:00 AM

They may take my Krispy Cremes, but they will never get my fried chicken smothered in country gravy!!

Posted by: Revolt! | December 20, 2006 11:01 AM

The cry goes out "something must be done!" And sure enough government will do something.

No bottled water on aircraft. Show ID to get into a government building. When are people going to take on board Ronald Reagan: "Government IS the problem!"

Posted by: richard clarke | December 20, 2006 11:02 AM

Funny comments about a big pain-in-the-rear issue...I used to be able to get my allery meds from Kaiser for $10 for a couple of months supply. Then it went OTC and Kaiser cut off my Rx because you could buy it at the corner CVS...so it went up to about $10 a week. Then they made it darn-near impossible to get, so more often than not I just go without and live in a state of perpetual congestion...so much for progress. As for the "big picture"...I say let the morons who want to blow their heads off with meth do so, and give me back my allergy meds.

Posted by: Rob | December 20, 2006 11:04 AM

for tamerlane and his/her reliance on the media's pronouncement of a meth pandemic, see also a wonderful series on www.slate.com about how the media is almost verbatim reliving its early 80s crack hysteria. and see how well that worked out for all of us. just search for "meth" and you'll find a wonderful series of counter-stories by Jack Shafer. I trot this out every time I have to suffer from another person tell me how meth is tearing apart the Shenandoah Valley.

Posted by: OD | December 20, 2006 11:15 AM

the products that were out on the shelves were not being bought by the meth addicts- they were often stolen from the shelves. i imagine this is why drugstores agreed to put them behind the counter- to reduce their losses, not to inconvenience their customers.

Posted by: fyi | December 20, 2006 11:16 AM

There's a meth problem out in the rural west-but not in DC (go ahead, ask the drug guys. they see maybe a dozen cases of meth use a year. MAYBE). The stupidity of jumping through all these hoops to get some Sudafed isn't doing a darn thing to lower meth use in DC.

And it ridiculous that some guy ended up with an arrest warrant because he purchased enough Claritin D so his kid could go to church camp!

Illogical drug laws, once again. When are we ever going to think about these things in any rational sort of way?

Posted by: in the know | December 20, 2006 11:23 AM

More facist big-government from the (so-called) anti-big-government Republi"can't"s

Posted by: BD | December 20, 2006 11:25 AM

So, we have to jump though hoops to get sudafed. Then the police have to check the logs, and prosecute the congested folks who went over the limit. Ummm, when are they actually out catching the REAL meth dealers if they are wasting their time trying to bust us?

Posted by: ep | December 20, 2006 11:30 AM

What ever happened to the conecept of personal responsibility.... if some idiot want to kill himself with meth, so what, who needs him? One less wellfare check for the government to write.

Posted by: Brian | December 20, 2006 11:35 AM

Next time Marc and friends do a bulk buy of Claritin D, they should also do a bulk buy of condoms. The look on the clerk's face should be interesting.

Posted by: Mister Methane | December 20, 2006 11:49 AM

Brian- Do you want a do it yourself methlab upstairs from you with the risk of it blowing up your building?

Posted by: CJ | December 20, 2006 11:54 AM

Proposed addendum to the Bill of Rights-A well ventilated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear decongestants, shall not be infringed. Call this Amendment 2.1, enlist the aid of the NRA, Nasal Relief Association, spread a little money around, conjure the image of the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, and your troubles are over.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 20, 2006 12:01 PM

"Only nine factories in the world manufacture the bulk of the worlds supply of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. Tightening control over the supply of these chemicals has been pursued on and off over the past 18 years, but the regulations have contained loopholes which meth traders quickly exploited."

So, rather than regulating this at the source -- only NINE factories -- we're exercising our vigilance over how many tens of thousands of CVS and other drug stores. We are SO incompetent, we ought to be institutionalized.

Oh, I guess we are...

Posted by: Rocco | December 20, 2006 12:07 PM

Hey Marc! A review (http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,2074740,00.asp) of the Marshmallow Blaster! It's described as "An essential tool of any modern office".

Oh, and there's a picture of it, too.

Posted by: wiredog | December 20, 2006 12:18 PM

I am so glad someone saw the silliness - and unwarranted governmental intrusion in our private lives - in this misguided initiative. People will always find ways to abuse the system, and controlling or cutting off supply inconveniences all and creates just another obstacle for abusers to overcome, which they will. The easiest distribution channel of all is right in front of us - it's the Internet, stupid - so all this has done is make those of us who suffer from allergies a lot more miserable. This is the kind of stuff that makes me think that the Libertarians may have something.

Posted by: Dean | December 20, 2006 12:23 PM

"If it saves lives..." Another article in today's paper says about 16,000 die each year from misusing aceteminophin, ibuprofen, and naproxin. Should we do like Great Britain, and restrict OTC sales of these drugs to 16 tablets per purchase? My "host" gift to a friend in Scotland was a 500-tablet bottle of ibuprofen for one of his housemates.

Posted by: GJ | December 20, 2006 12:29 PM

I enjoy your columns most times but I think you are off-base on this one. Meth abuse is a serious concern across the nation and these laws have had a positive effect with only a small inconvenience to the law abiding public. No one in Congress or the various states said that these laws would be a panacea for the entire meth problem but they have led to a huge decrease in small toxic meth labs. When looking at the meth problem it is important to note that much of the meth in the U.S. is brought in from Mexico. However, the small labs posed significant risks to communities because children were often around during meth production and for every pound of meth produced there is 5-7 pounds of toxic waste. In addition, many labs led to fires and explosions and endangered first responders. As a result of their state law, Iowa has seen an 80 percent cut in small toxic meth labs. Showing a photo-ID and signing for cold medicine seems a small price to pay.

Posted by: Joe | December 20, 2006 12:36 PM

Meth labs are also an issue with firefighters. They are boobie-trapped. So, yes, while it's nice to let the junkie kill themselves, they have no right to harm those that may come to their rescue.

I used to work at CVS -- first it was a log to sign and we kept in the pharmacy, now it's up front and I could care less what the process is since I don't work up front. I am amazed at the people that live under rocks and still ask us where it is and why isn't it out on the shelves? They're as dumb as the people on the TSA lines at the airports -- liquid ban? What's that?

Posted by: Columbia, MD | December 20, 2006 12:36 PM

So I guess the lesson Marc wants us to take is that if you can't do something 100% perfect (control -epedrine access) don't do it at all. We do what we can, brah!

Posted by: Stick | December 20, 2006 12:47 PM

[Ha. Ha. Hi-larious. The crackdown on OTC sales has made a huge difference out in the rural areas where meth has devastated entire towns. Go ask some small-town sherriff. So you have to go through a little inconvenience. Small price to pay. Get over yourselves and look at the big picture.]
If you're sick and there's no 24 hour pharmacy it's not a little inconvenience. Why should we suffer because some country yokel wants to make meth. Just like making drugs illegal doesn't keep people from using drugs, making people jump through stupd hoops isn't going to make a bit of difference. Addicts always find a way to get their fix. Cars and guns kill more people than meth but nobody has a problem with those. Get over yourself.

Posted by: allergy sufferer | December 20, 2006 1:03 PM

If meth is such a problem in middle america and the shenandoah valley, why am I signing logbooks in Herndon to get my meds? And they do realize that you can purchase almost anything on the net, right?

Posted by: geography | December 20, 2006 1:06 PM

"If it saves lives" should realize that as the US government cracks down on domestic meth labs and sale of pseudophedrine and related products, the overall supply of meth in this country isn't decreasing because overseas sources have been stepping up to supply meth to the US market. So asking people to jump through these ridiculous hoops to buy their allergy meds may be impacting the US supply of pseudophedrine, but not the US supply of meth.

Posted by: plick | December 20, 2006 1:51 PM

The biggest problem I have with this column is the claim that your friend is taking Claritin b/c of a family cat. Claritin does not block animal allergens. I know b/c I am severly allergic to animal dander, and Claritin provided no relief. When I consulted my physician, he suggested Zyrtec, Allegra, or Singulair b/c they had the extra pharm (I have no idea of the name of the particular blocker) that blocked my allergen but was not in Claritin. Claritin's lack of that pharma, I've been told, is one of the reasons it is OTC and the others are not.

Posted by: Allergies | December 20, 2006 2:05 PM

The biggest problem I have with this column is the claim that your friend is taking Claritin b/c of a family cat. Claritin does not block animal allergens. I know b/c I am severly allergic to animal dander, and Claritin provided no relief. When I consulted my physician, he suggested Zyrtec, Allegra, or Singulair b/c they had the extra pharm (I have no idea of the name of the particular blocker) that blocked my allergen but was not in Claritin. Claritin's lack of that pharma, I've been told, is one of the reasons it is OTC and the others are not.

Posted by: Allergies | December 20, 2006 2:06 PM

It's also part of a seemingly inexorable march toward becoming a "Big Brother" country. It is beyond infuriating that law-abiding people are treated/tracked like criminals. I'm ok with putting it behind the counter, and limiting quantity--but no damn way am I showing ID and signing a log!!!

Posted by: Babs | December 20, 2006 2:09 PM

Trust me, the new rules have helped. Before the OTC restrictions, criminals were buying cold meds in bulk. They would go from store to store to store in urban areas where there was a higher density of pharmacies, buying everything in stock. Anyone with access to the Internet could pull up instructions on how to make a lab. There were literally thousands of small labs operating across the area. For a small PD, it was impossible to fight. Now that there are restrictions on the amount you can buy, they have had to go to industrial sources which are much earier to track and we are doing so. Someone made the point that restricting OTC sales hasn't stopped the meth epidemic and they are right. But it has helped us slow the spread of meth into the area. This is a good thing.

And Meth is not just out West being made in some high-desert lab. Most of the meth we seize is made in rural VA and MD. With the crackdown in the rural areas, the producers and suppliers are moving their operations into the urban areas on the East Coast. Collegues of mine in the DC area have found mobile "labs" in the trunks of cars and have found full-blown labs in abandoned houses. It is coming your way, folks. It affects poor and rich, white and black equally. It destroys lives. Please take it seriously.

Posted by: Valley PD | December 20, 2006 2:16 PM

For all those people continuing to repeat the alarmist tripe about meth, I implore you to read Jack Shafer's series on www.slate.com (search for "meth") to see just how ridiculous this whole "meth" thing is.

Thank you.

Posted by: OD | December 20, 2006 2:18 PM

To the people that keep saying things like "let the meth-heads kill themselves, why should we care", I'd just like to point out the short-sightedness of that viewpoint. Many people that are strung out and addicted to meth do far more harm to society while they are alive, so that's why you should care.

People that get to a point where they are so addicted they can't stop, can't hold a job, and therefore can't afford it will resort to any means to get it - prostitution, robbery, and murder. For the ones that get caught, taxpayers get the expense of the resulting jailtime, rehab, court costs, etc. Meth can also make people volatile and unable to control themselves - every watch Cops when it takes 6 officers to bring down a guy because he's so charged up on meth? Those people do not care about the consequences of their actions and that makes it everyone's problem.

I don't agree with the restrictions on buying cold medicines over the counter as a solution, but I do think it's a problem that shouldn't be ignored.

Posted by: Rosslyn | December 20, 2006 2:27 PM

I too have allergies. However, instead of taking Claritin, I take Loratadine, which is the generic equivalent of Claritin. The generic is available on the shelves with no restriction what so ever. I don't know what the chemical difference is between the 2, but ease of buying, along with the much cheaper price, makes Loratadine much more attractive than the name brand Claritin.

Posted by: BF | December 20, 2006 2:30 PM

"If you're sick and there's no 24 hour pharmacy it's not a little inconvenience. Why should we suffer because some country yokel wants to make meth. Just like making drugs illegal doesn't keep people from using drugs, making people jump through stupd hoops isn't going to make a bit of difference. Addicts always find a way to get their fix. Cars and guns kill more people than meth but nobody has a problem with those. Get over yourself."

Actually, it is just a little inconvenient to wait a few hours or drive/Metro to some place where there is a 24-hour pharmacy. And that's it. It's a small inconvenience. No one is dying b/c they can't get their Claritin at 3 AM. But people are dying from meth (not just "yokels", genius) and the easy access to the raw ingredients were one of the things that was fueling the spread of it. Ask any cop and they will tell you that the new rules have helped. I'll leave your non-sequitors about cars and guns for someone else.

Posted by: Country John | December 20, 2006 2:45 PM

So what if people are dying from meth? Let them die. They are degenerates that society doesn't need. If they can't get their hands on meth, they will just find something else to smoke, inject, or sniff.

Posted by: Claritin User | December 20, 2006 3:04 PM

Just had to sign for Advil Cold and Sinus and two days later Sudafed at Giant when the Advil didn't work. Talk about a stupid waste of a sick person's time. It makes it really hard when you're shopping for a spouse who is sick too!

Posted by: Chris | December 20, 2006 3:06 PM

The government should start regulating the corrosive dihydrogen monoxide first. Consumption of this compound ultimately leads to 100% fatality rates. I am not talking trans fats contributing to obesity, or regulating claritin access; everyone who has any dihydrogen monoxide in their system WILL die. This substance is dangerous. There should be signitures on file- as anyone going through withdrawal symptoms can be a menace to society.
Imagine driving down the road and the person in the vehicle next to you gives in to withdrawal symptoms and passes out or even dies! Next thing you know you've got an out of control vehicle, and we all know how dangerous that can be- just look at traffic here to begin with.
Before they start regulating allergy meds, they should regulate dihydrogen monoxide. Stupid people can not be trusted with this substance.

Posted by: Chris | December 20, 2006 3:19 PM

Actually, water already is regulated Chris.

Posted by: BF | December 20, 2006 3:22 PM

How about regulating the number of cigarettes instead? Cancer from smoking causes more deaths than meth.

Posted by: Let Me Breathe! | December 20, 2006 3:26 PM

The reason for the ban is to get decongestants off the shelf. The problem is that products without a decongestant, such as Coricidin HBP, are also pulled from the shelves, even though the ingredients in Coricidin HBP won't help one make meth.

Posted by: The ban is poorly implemented | December 20, 2006 3:28 PM

not really- have you tasted some of the stuff in various places? I can get cheeseburgers from anywhere in the country at a McDonalds and they will taste the same. Water on the other hand, the most simplest of things, does not taste the same. Hmmm. drink for thought. ;)

Posted by: Chris | December 20, 2006 3:29 PM

Well Chris, there are national guidelines as to what is, and how much is allowable in the water. Many states, counties, and cities have their own regulations on top of those. So while it's not regulated to a fine point like McDonald's hamburgers (and really, doesn't the fact that they always taste the same scare you a little bit?) It is in fact still regulated.

Posted by: BF | December 20, 2006 3:35 PM

That Big Mac better taste the same every time I eat it. Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun! No more, no less.

Posted by: Let me Breathe! | December 20, 2006 3:48 PM

They might even drown.

Posted by: jason | December 20, 2006 3:53 PM

[Actually, it is just a little inconvenient to wait a few hours or drive/Metro to some place where there is a 24-hour pharmacy. And that's it. It's a small inconvenience. ]
No, when you can't breathe waiting a few hours or driving to someplace with a 24 hour pharmacy is a LARGE inconvenience. People don't take these things for grins and giggles, people take them because they can't breathe, their eyes are red and runny, they're itchy. Next time you get a nasty cold or have an allergy attack you wait a few hours to take something to aleviate your suffering. If they can't make it here, they'll get it someplace else. Cocaine is everywhere you go, if they can figure out how to get that into the country they'll get the crap they need to make meth. Is being addicted to meth worse than being an unfunctioning alcoholic? Because alcohol is cheap and prevalent. You don't have to sign a log book and depending on how old you look you don't have to show an ID. There are scores of people addicted to pain medication [Rush Limbaugh, anyone] who will doctor shop to get what they want. And again, if you can't find a doctor to give it to you you can get almost ANYTHING online and have it sent to your home. Are postal inspectors going to go through every package looking for someone stocking up on Sudafed? If the government can't stop illegal immigrants from coming over the border how can they stop meth addicts from getting what they need?

Posted by: to country john | December 20, 2006 4:00 PM

I can understand putting the pseudo epinephrine behind the counter so it won't get stolen, but why do you have to sign a book checked by the police? I live in the West, and I just bought a box of 60 doses of Claritin at Sam's yesterday for my husband who takes it for hay fever.
On the other hand I take allegra and bought mine over the counter when I was in Mexico a few weeks ago. Why are we regulating allergy medicine? In most of the world, you can buy any kind of medicine except for narcotics over the counter.
In the US they regulate consumers, not corporations.

Posted by: Southern Girl | December 20, 2006 4:15 PM

Why doesnt you friend just get a prescription for Entex or another allergy/hay fever med. And the best part Marc it will probably be cheaper. Problem with most of these drugs after about a year or so the Claritin or Sudafed becomes useless and you need to switch to something else. Great job Marc coming out in support of breaking the law. So I guess its all right for law abiding DC residents to carry a concealed weapon then! Typical liberal BS only I am smart enough to decide which laws and rules to follow.

Posted by: vaherder | December 20, 2006 4:28 PM

Yeah, it's crazy as can be. Every now and then I get a taste for the only alcohol I can tolerate - good Kentucky Bourbon. Unfortunately I'm allergic to some ingredient in Bourbon that makes my allergies go bonkers and thus the only time I need my "drugs" is when I drink.

So I run down to the local state liquor store so I can get my bottle - no questions asked - I look my age. But that darned, drug store is in the same shopping mall and so on the way home I have to go through the third degree to get what I'll need the next day.

It's a topsy turvy world. It's enough to make a fellow start drinking every day, but then what would I do?

Know any speakeasy drugstores for those of us allergic to bourbon?


Posted by: Bruce Perry | December 20, 2006 4:29 PM

Poorly implemented hit the nail on the head from my perspective. I recently had a cold and bought some Nyquil (the sneezy, achy, stuffy head, fever, so you can rest medicine) which no longer includes the "stuffy head" portion of the concoction (and is no longer in their tag line). I assume they took out the decongestant so they can still sell OTC without signature. So how can you rest when you can't breathe? Seems unlikely that someone will be trying to make meth from Nyquil.

Posted by: Stuffy | December 20, 2006 5:10 PM

My husband takes 1 Claritin 12-hour every night before bed. We call it "the marriage saver". It has cut his snoring volume down by 75% and now his wife(that would be me)can sleep. When we run out...its BAD news. We used to stock up. I am ALL for having it be behind the counter and having to ask for it - but the restrictions and the log are ridiculous. Limiting the amount of ephedrine the average American can purchase at one time is not going to cancel addiction. How about addressing the SOCIAL woes that make addiction and its resulting crime a possibility?

Posted by: Alison | December 20, 2006 5:16 PM

My husband takes Claritin D every day. I was buying it for 50 cent/pill. Now
I have to pay $1/pill (some times more). That is $175 more per year. I buy it because I'm the one shopping. We don't have huge amounts of time for him to make a special trip each day. I work from home when he can watch the kids. So if he had to buy it then it would cost us more. This fall we were all sick. I had to buy pseudophede for me, my children, and him. I know I was over the legal limit but we were sick and needed those medicine. I tried taking the PE stuff and ended up with a sinus infection because it didn't work. I can understand the need for restrains. Fine, then give my husband a perscription so that we can get what we need without a hassle.

Posted by: Sharon | December 20, 2006 6:05 PM

[quote]Why doesnt you friend just get a prescription for Entex or another allergy/hay fever med.[/quote]
Ah but since Claritin went OTC it's like pulling teeth to get your insurance to cover prescription decongestants. They would rather have you pay for it than them.

Posted by: allergy sufferer | December 20, 2006 6:25 PM

[So I guess its all right for law abiding DC residents to carry a concealed weapon then! Typical liberal BS only I am smart enough to decide which laws and rules to follow.]
How in the world did your mind make the leap from buying decongestants to carrying a gun? So since your a good conservative who obeys all laws we can safely assume you've never gone over the speed limit in your car? Or did YOU decide that law was one you didn't have to follow.

Posted by: huh? | December 20, 2006 6:29 PM

allergy sufferer, you are very correct. My physician will no longer perscribe allergy medicine to me since Claritin is now available OTC.

Isn't it a coincidence that there are millions of allergy sufferers and all of a sudden, allergy medicine becomes available over the counter so insurance companies doesn't have to pay for it. Yet, health insurance premiums continues to increase.......

Posted by: WB | December 20, 2006 7:42 PM

Here's a radical suggestion. Make Claritin-D a prescription drug- gasp- again. It was cheaper for those of us that need the 30 day supply- then- anyhow.

Posted by: Everywhere, USA | December 20, 2006 8:01 PM

Mr. Fisher,

I thoroughly enjoyed your article and I agree with you 100%. I would suggest, however, you get an attorney. You just admitted you and your friends conspired to buy Claritin (in which is a main ingredient to make meth) for your other friend, Joe the allergy-suffering Lawyer.

Not that I disagree with you, but don't be surprised if someone in the Federal/DC Government decides to go after you.

Posted by: John Baird | December 20, 2006 8:13 PM

Mr. Fisher,

I thoroughly enjoyed your article and I agree with you 100%. I would suggest, however, you get an attorney. You just admitted you and your friends conspired to buy Claritin (in which is a main ingredient to make meth) for your other friend, Joe the allergy-suffering Lawyer.

Not that I disagree with you, but don't be surprised if someone in the Federal/DC Government decides to go after you.

Posted by: John Baird | December 20, 2006 8:14 PM

"No, when you can't breathe waiting a few hours or driving to someplace with a 24 hour pharmacy is a LARGE inconvenience."

I have allegies. Do what I do. If you start running low, buy some more. It is not rocket science.

"If they can't make it here, they'll get it someplace else."

Fine. Let them do that. You sort of made my point there.

"Is being addicted to meth worse than being an unfunctioning alcoholic? Because alcohol is cheap and prevalent."

I am going to guess "no" but then again, there seem to be hundreds of millions of people who peacefully co-exist with alcohol. Not too many functioning meth addicts out there.

"There are scores of people addicted to pain medication [Rush Limbaugh, anyone] who will doctor shop to get what they want. And again, if you can't find a doctor to give it to you you can get almost ANYTHING online and have it sent to your home."

Yeah, "script doctors" and the on-line pharma people are a problem and writing prescriptions like they do is illegal. The police arrest those kind of people all the time. Because of US law enforcement efforts, almost all of those places have moved off-shore. Not sure what your point was.

"Are postal inspectors going to go through every package looking for someone stocking up on Sudafed?"

Not that I know of (and I hope not) but large mail orders are probably going to tip sombody off that you are up to something. Try shipping a couple hundred boxes of Subafed to your house and see if you don't get a visit from the local constabulatory.

"If the government can't stop illegal immigrants from coming over the border how can they stop meth addicts from getting what they need?"

Ultimately, it is a cat-and-mouse game, just like illegal immigration. If there is money to be made, someone will find a way around the rules. It doesn't mean you stop trying. Let me let you in on a little secret: there is no "magic bullet" to stopping drugs. If there was, someone would have thought of it a long time ago.

You know, I have to say I find this whole thread amusing as hell. Try talking to people living in places where meth has become a bane of the community's existence. No one grumbles about OTC rules there. It's like you people want to wait until that crap has already gotten established here before we do something about it. Here's a thought: how about we head off this thing before it becomes a problem. It's a shocker, I know. But it's just so crazy, it just might work.

Posted by: Country John | December 20, 2006 8:38 PM

The problem with this law in NC is there is no exception for people who have children that need medications containing the drug. The new OTC meds just don't work. I used up my allotted monthly amount when the whole family caught a nasty respiratory virus earlier this month. If the virus lingered, or if something else comes up before the 30 day period expired, I'll either break the law or enlist the aid of someone else to purchase for me.

Posted by: LegalEagle | December 20, 2006 10:35 PM

For those whose doctors won't prescribe something else because Claritin is OTC -- find another doctor. There are plenty of better products behind the counter that may even be cheaper -- I got 30 generic Allegra under my plan for $10. Cheaper then Claritin. And I ALWAYS make sure I have extra's stored away for an emergency. None of this "it's 3 AM and I need my Claritin". Give me a break. You may feel miserable, but you're not dying.

Posted by: Columbia, MD | December 21, 2006 9:21 AM

The problem isn't the doctor's not prescribing it for most of us. It is the insurance NO LONGER COVERING IT. So while I can get a script, I cannot pay $130/per month PER PERSON for 2 kids and myself to get the allergy meds we need to be taking. And for us, it isn't a simple "being uncomfortable" issue. Unmanaged allergies lead 100% of the time to an out of control asthma attack requiring a hospital stay. I was ticked when I had to pay so much for over the counter claritin, which does not contain the same things that Zyrtec or Clarinex does, thereby eliminating some of the coverage we do need for our allergies. We can only use Claritin or Loratadine, we can't use the -D version because I can't sign for 90 pills per month. We deal with the asthma attacks as they come.

Posted by: To Columbia MD | December 21, 2006 9:59 AM

Cough syrup will be next on the "control" list:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16311712/

Posted by: WB | December 21, 2006 10:02 AM

Fergie was a meth-head and she recovered. And now she's Fergalicious.

So we have that to be thankful for.

Posted by: OD | December 21, 2006 10:55 AM

To the person with all the allergies --Have you or your doctor talked to your insurance company? Sometimes all it takes is a couple of phone calls. Sometimes even the pharmacist can do it (I used to work for CVS). Claritin and it's generic aren't all that special, esp. if you are dealing with asthma (I am too, but find that generic Allegra works for me). There is also Singulair for asthma (and they make a kid one), among other stuff. Maybe you need your house "inspected" if everyone suffers from allergies? Do you have pets? Have you seen an allergist, or just a doctor? Or maybe you all need the benefits of allergy shots? I wouldn't want to pump all those drugs in my kids. Don't you think eventually you and they will build up a tolerance for them?

Just some suggestions.

Posted by: From Columbia, MD | December 21, 2006 4:59 PM

Stupid, stupid, stupid. It's one more case of throwing out the baby with the bath water.

Yes, meth is a problem. Is it an epidemic? I have my doubts. Is making the rest of the world's life difficult by limiting access to pseudoephedrine going to stop users? Nope. My son, a former meth user (but clean for the past eight years) says that this is a ridiculous waste of time and that users will always find a way no matter what. And I couldn't agree more.

Posted by: Occasional reader | December 21, 2006 5:32 PM

I whole heartedly agree. My wife and I suffer terrible multi-seasonal allergies all year long and Claritin-D is a big help in the fight to feel better. The law does nothing to curb Meth production (I challenge anyone to show real stats where it has curbed Meth in a meaningful way) and it punishes normal law abiding people. I agree with the guy who said it's more big government from the Rebubli-can'ts. They can send off hundreds of thousands of people to war to be killed or wounded but heaven forbid someone kill themselves abusing drugs.

Posted by: Sean K | December 21, 2006 7:16 PM

Allergy shots are no longer covered by insurance at work. We are on singulair, and that takes "preapproval" to get and is priced at the highest tier in our prescription coverage. You cannot get preapproval for the allergy meds because the company (as many are doing) has chosen to purchase an insurance plan that does not cover non-sedative allergy meds, and they have advised they are going to continue to limit other meds as "equivalents" become available OTC. So the insurance company isn't the problem, it's the employer plans (and I work for a huge corporation, this isn't s a mom and pop shop trying to be conservative with their insurance dollars). I'm getting the impression that, as far as companies are concerned, it would be better to have the folks who truly need meds leave the company, then it lessons the burden for everyone else.

We do see an allergist and a pediatric pulmonologist. We have two dogs, but we have no allergies to dogs at all. There is no carpet in our house, every precaution against allergies that we can take, we are taking. This isn't new for us, I've had allergies and asthma my entire life and my kids are not babies.

There is a bright side, of course, we could be on one of those "consumer led" plans or whatever they're called, the ones where you have to pay a $7K deductible before the insurance covers anything. Maybe they will stick that on us next year. Who knows, maybe they'll cancel coverage for the epi pens too.

Posted by: To From Columbia, MD | December 22, 2006 9:30 PM

I am really worried about the medications of many people use... thats the reason because show that theme to you... The Drugs like the LORATADINE

the most important things about Loratadine


Loratadine is used to relieve hay fever and allergy symptoms, including sneezing; runny
nose; and red, itchy, tearing eyes. Loratadine is in a class of medications called
antihistamines. It works by blocking histamine, a substance in the body that causes
allergic symptoms. Loratadine may cause less drowsiness than other antihistamines.

In the same calification we can find drugs like


Flonase is a steroid. It prevents the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation, is used to treat the nasal symptoms of allergies and other seasonal reactions.,may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

Use Flonase spray exactly as directed by your doctor. Read the information insert included with your medication. If you do not understand these instructions, ask your pharmacist, nurse, or doctor to explain them to you.
To use the nasal spray:
Shake the bottle gently and then remove the dust cover,It is necessary to prime the pump
into the air the first time it is used, or when you have not used it for a week or more.
To prime the pump, hold the bottle with the nasal applicator pointing away from you and
with your forefinger and middle finger on either side of the nasal applicator and your
thumb underneath the bottle. Press down and release the pump three to four times until a
fine spray appears. The pump is now ready to use,
Blow your nose to clear your nostrils,

the fioricet is a pain reliever and fever reducer.
is in a class of drugs called barbiturates that slow down your central nervous system (brain and nerve impulses) causing relaxation.
is believed to constrict dilated blood vessels that may contribute to tension headaches.
Together, acetaminophen, butalbital, and caffeine are used to relieve complex tension (muscle contraction) headaches although precisely how it works is unknown.
Fioricet may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

Amoxicillin is used to treat certain infections caused by bacteria, such as pneumonia;
bronchitis; gonorrhea; and infections of the ears, nose, throat, urinary tract, and skin.
It is also used in combination with other medications to eliminate H. pylori, a bacteria
that causes ulcers. Amoxicillin is in a class of medications called penicillin-like
antibiotics. It works by stopping the growth of bacteria. Antibiotics will not work for
colds, flu, and other viral infections.
Amoxicillin comes as a capsule, a tablet, a chewable tablet, a suspension (liquid), and
pediatric drops to take by mouth. It is usually taken every 12 hours (twice a day) or every
8 hours (three times a day) with or without food. To help you remember to take amoxicillin,
take it around the same time every day.

you can find more information about vicodin at www.crdrx.com, 10/325 at www.10-325.com, vicoprofen at www.1vicoprofen.com and lortab at www.1lortab.com


Have a great day

Posted by: dalia | January 18, 2007 10:24 AM

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