Editor, Times-Union:
The front page of last weekend’s Times-Union was almost solely focused on pseudoephedrine (PSE) and its role in the production of meth. In reading the coverage of this page, I was left feeling frustrated and disheartened by this one-sided approach to journalism.
The main reason that Indiana does not require a prescription for PSE is not because the major drug companies with their high paid lobbyists don’t want it, it is because the people of Indiana don’t support it. Despite the fact the Times-Union has put every local meth bust on page one and have run several editorials urging making PSE a prescription drug, people in this area do not support it.
For many years I have asked this question on my pre-session survey, and the majority have opposed requiring a prescription by a fairly wide margin. As a state representative, it is my role to be the voice of the people that elected me to office. The inference that the high-paid drug lobbyists have stopped it is not correct. In my many years in Indianapolis, I have never had a lobbyist approach me on this issue from either side and I doubt the majority of my colleagues have either.
Another inference made was that it is only the drug industry that opposes it. Dr. Nate Feldman, former Indiana Health Commissioner for the Board of Health, has written many letters and op-eds opposing making it a prescription. I will quote Dr. Deepak Azad, current president of the Indiana State Medical Association (doctors), in a letter published in the Indianapolis Star on Feb. 7, 2014. He thanks the General Assembly for denying a vote on the issue, for, in his words, “...a prescription requirement for PSE would have unduly burdoned both patients and physicians. Patients would have to pay additional to consult their doctors while doctors would have to make time to prescribe safe, FDA approved cold medicine. Doctor offices are already overcrowded. Forcing Hoosiers with common colds to visit that doctor would only result in longer wait times for patients with more serious conditions ... We’re pleased they rejected a policy that creates unnecessary difficulties for physicians and their patients.”
News Views points out it is a matter of health and safety and we must act. I don’t deny that, but that rationale is exactly what Mayor Bloomberg used to ban large sodas because obesity was a matter of health and safety. There are some folks that would use that type of rationale to ban fire arms and ammunition as they see that as a safety issue. I am not willing to go down that path of depriving Hoosiers of legal products because of the actions of the bad actors.
Another statement used to justify making it a prescription was that it was a prescription until 1976 so why not do it again? I suggest it was taken off the list in 1976 because it was shown to be a safe, effective drug that had few risks when used as directed.
I look forward to further discussions in future sessions on this issue. We all have the same goal but just differ on how to get there. As long as the majority of my constituents oppose making it a prescription, I will continue to oppose the prescription option.
Dave Wolkins