Monday, January 01, 2007

Buying Sudafed in Tennessee

Unfortunately, I've got a cold. One that's bad enough to warrant a few doses of Sudafed (pseudoephedrine hydrocloride). I stopped into our local Kroger to pick up a box of 24 tablets, and the saga began.

You see, Tennessee is a 'meth state'. We rank among the top five states for methamphetamine use and manufacture. This isn't a good thing. Meth is the drug of choice in rural areas, primarily because it is cheap and can be made locally. In fact, rural locations are preferred for meth kitchens since they can easily be detected by the telltale smells of the strong chemicals used to make 'ice' -- another name for meth. The process is simple to learn, but it is dangerous, with hundreds of severe injuries and deaths in Tennessee each year due to meth lab explosions.

Since pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient of illegal methamphetamine, I knew the tablets weren't on display with the other cold medicines. They've been behind the pharmacist's counter for a few years now. What I wasn't prepared for was the paperwork required for purchase.

To buy a $4 box of over-the-counter (no prescription required) cold medicine, I had to supply my name, address, phone number, date of birth, driver's license number, date and time of purchase at the top of a form that is normally reserved for purchasing prescription drugs that are controlled substances. The pharmacist then asked me several questions -- why was I buying the Sudafed? (I have a cold.) What else was I buying? (Afrin nasal spray.) What other drugs was I taking? (None.) I had to then sign a form with some legalese on it certifying that my name and address were accurate.

I hope that these measures are keeping the meth labs from producing illegal methamphetamine. Somehow, I think that it's doubtful.


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