Prescription for Ephedrine, Our Own Point of View

In our last posts, Cops in Favor of Prescription for Ephedrine and Prescription for Ephedrine is Strongly Opposed by Patients, we discussed the dilemma that politicians are currently facing, as they have to chose between tracking sales of ephedrine through the NPLEX system, or to consider a prescription mandate for ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.

Let’s summarize the main arguments of both parties

Proponents of prescription

  • Meth cooks found an easy workaround to the NPLEX system: “smurfers” are buying for them, even in neighboring states.
  • Fixing a monthly limit means that people are able to buy until this limit before they get blocked.
  • Cops say that NPLEX doesn’t help them in a preventive way, it is not used to identify trafficking networks, they still use the old methods.
  • They also complain that NPLEX is even confusing them with unnecessary data and administrative tasks.

Opponents of prescription

  • Effectiveness: people who suffer from cold, allergy and asthma say that they can’t get by without ephedrine or pseudoephedrine: these alkaloids are by far the most effective, long lasting medication – and also the cheapest one.
  • Health costs: patients don’t accept a co-pay for a doctor’s prescription, and many of them have a high deductible.
  • Ineffective law: they think that a prescription mandate would not stop the development of meth labs nationwide.
  • Alternate solution: they believe that other solutions such as NPLEX accessed in real-time to track the sales of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine would be a better choice than a prescription mandate.

Our point of view

We clearly prefer the NPLEX system, compared to the burden of a doctor’s prescription for ephedrine. This is not a secret and the tone of our previous articles indicates what we consider as the best solution. But as a result, we have received many emails from persons who don’t understand our position, thinking that drug control is more important than healing colds and allergies.

Please let us clarify this point. Due to our jobs, we are well aware of the consequences of drug abuse: health but also legal and social consequences. We know what drugs push addicts to do: theft, crime, violence, child abuse, etc… Drug addicts suffer physically and mentally: convulsions, headaches, hypertension, tremors, bone pain, and even seizures. The frequent psychological disorders are stress, insomnia, depression, self-mutilation, paranoia and attempted suicide. We know it as most of you do, but also with a doctor’s view, as some of us have drug addicts as patients. Drug abuse is not new and seems to be one of these social problems that have no solution since decades.

But understanding that drugs are a pledge to our society does not mean that any measure having to do with drugs control is a good measure. That would be only a partial view over a much bigger problem. In other words, solving hypothetically a drug problem caused by addicts by raising another problem to a much higher number of law abiding citizens is definitely unfair. It is just shifting problems, not solving them.

What we truly think is that drugs must be fought effectively, but we are also convinced that all the people who need their cold and asthma relief, especially 60 millions of people suffering from asthma and who have nothing to do with drugs trafficking, should not pay a higher price due to a minority of people. And the key argument is the following: not only for social principles we think that they should not pay this higher price, but also for practical reasons: as many experts, we are convinced that this prescription mandate would not curb meth labs. Workarounds would be found without any doubt, and we would have the same remaining meth problem plus a new problem for millions of people due to a poor decision.

Meth seen from the inside

Meth seen from the inside with Shadow People from Scott Thomas AndersonYou should read “Shadow People“, written by a journalist who deserves a lot of respect: Scott Thomas Anderson, who spent 18 months studying the meth market in the Sacramento foothills. “Prior to 2005 in California, most meth was coming out of so-called ‘ma-and-pa’ meth labs that you find in Sacramento, all along the foothills. Large drug cartels have now taken the market over, and they’re cooking mountains of meth in Mexico and bringing it up into the United States“, Anderson said. This is confirm by the latest reports from the Drug Enforcement Administration, estimating that that 85 percent of meth now comes from Mexico. That’s why we are sure that asking law abiding citizen to get a doctor’s prescription for ephedrine will change nothing to this situation.

A dilemma for politicians

For sure it’s a complex topic and we will never blame any politician who has to consider all aspects before making a decision. This kind of decision is a hard one and making a decision is also making choices which will benefit more to some people than to others, but it’s the best known way to date to organize things in society. We respect that and we will always do, we are not criticizing without a reason.

If we reduce this issue to its core elements, we are convinced that our perception, analysis and position make sense:

  • Are ephedrine and pseudoephedrine effective for cold, allergies and asthma? Yes, these are the cheapest and the most effective medications for these conditions.
  • Is NPLEX effective at controlling sales of ephedrine? Not sure but probable, if used correctly but law enforcement officers.
  • Would prescription be effective at curbing meth labs? No. As just explained, adjustments would be immediately made by sourcing from other countries


Of course, hearing that meth labs are on the rise in some states is a pity, but would it be fair to add a financial burden to law abiding citizens for measures which would not be effective? In other words, if US politicians go for a prescription mandate for ephedrine, you can be sure of one thing only: the increase of health cost for millions of honest Americans. All the rest about drug control is just supposition. For us, the price to pay is too high compared to the probable lack of results.

What we sincerely believe is that drugs must be fought permanently, and in parallel ephedrine must remain available to people who need it. Transferring the problem to law abiding citizen is not fair.

It seems that US politicians share the same analysis: recent decisions about prescription bills are in favor of real-time tracking of purchases of ephedrine, through the NPLEX system. For instance in Alabama, where the lobbying of law enforcement officials did not manage to convince the political representatives.

By Mike Budd

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