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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

May, 2006

 

Use Allergy Meds, Go To Jail!
By Alex Horvath

Have you tried going out and buying an over-the-counter allergy medication lately?
Spring is here and with it all of the pollen and dust that equals severe allergies for many - including this writer from Northern California. My allergies are extra-special because I can't just take Claritin, which is what my doctor recommends. I have to take Claritin D, which has an extra decongestant in it and works a lot better on my inflamed nostrils.
Unfortunately, Claritin D, and anything with pseudoephedrine, is apparently also the favorite of methamphetmine manufacturers, who have been drawing attention to themselves by shoplifting the packets from drug stores and supermarkets and turning the allergy pills into speed!

I never had found the stuff to be out of stock when I went to buy it, but about a year ago I noticed that the actual product had been replaced with plastic cards in most drug stores and the goods were now kept behind the counter. Things have now gone from bad to worse. From what I understand, in January the US Senate voted to have stricter laws surrounding the sale of pseudoephedrine. From what I have been able to ascertain, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (in a braindead move if this is true), added the pseudoephedrine to the Patriot Act as it was getting renewed. The end result is that pharmacies, large and small, are now jumping through hoops in their enforcement of this new law. At Long's in Rohnert Park, for example, each customer's purchase is tracked - and they are only allowed to purchase two packets of Claritin D or other pseudoephedrine-laced medication per month. Down the street at Wal-Mart, similar rules apply - and the pharmacist actually insisted on scanning my driver license and having me sign for the medication via electronicsignature (My signature: "I Resent This").

Clearly, this has gotten out of hand. The sad news is that there is no end in sight. Well, that's not exactly true. Back at Long's, I waited in line this evening for the pharmacist to fetch my generic (Long's brand) Claritin D only to learn that they were out of it and may not be getting it again.

Why would Long's discontinue carrying s medication that many people need and can get cheaper through the generic brand? The answer was that it has become too cumbersome and not cost-effective for the company to buy it any more. So, bring your identification, green card, loyalty oath, etc. down to the pharmacy next time you have an allergic break-out. And don't forget to thank the United States Senate - and the Patriot Act!


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