02
Feb
09

Another casualty of the war on drugs – everyone with a cold.

A little while ago, the government decided that you shouldn’t be able to buy pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) because it can be used in the production of methamphetamine. You can’t get it without consulting a pharmacist. At least not in my area.
Most cold medicine brands replaced pseudoephedrine with phenyephrine and kept right on trucking. The pills look basically the same, and the names are similar enough that most non-chemists probably didn’t notice or care. The claims of efficacy on the box didn’t change much either. They still carry phrases like “maximum strength” and “severe cold formula” or “sinus headache”.
So what’s the problem? Not much, really. Except that phenylephrine gets metabolized by your system before it can reach your sinuses, and is therefore no more effective than a placebo. (GlaxoSmithKline, your partner in irresponsible medication, disagrees.) Did you catch that? Because of the drug war, everyone who has a cold or sinus congestion has been taking placebo for the last couple years. Oh, by the way, phenylephrine also raises your blood pressure and needlessly taxes your liver for no measurable benefit. If you’re unlucky enough to need cold medicine outside of pharmacy hours, you should probably just take a good strong belt of Nyquil and sleep until you can get the real stuff.
Methamphetamine production has not ceased.

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