Measured Against Reality

Friday, December 29, 2006


I’ve been sick for the past week or so, nothing serious, just a cold. But thanks to the War on Drugs, the cold medicine I took wasn’t as good as it should be.

How on earth are the War on Drugs and my cold related? Though a drug called pseudoephedrine. Pseudoephedrine is a nasal decongestant, and –until recently- was used in most OTC cold medicines, notably Sudafed.

However, pseudoephedrine is also a necessary precursor for methamphetamine. So the drug warriors, trying to combat meth-labs, passed legislation that put all medications containing pseudoephedrine behind the counter, requires counts be kept of purchases, and allots a limit to how much can be purchased in a month. Which has led to people being hassled for buying some extra Sudafed to tide them over during a trip, or other nonsense.

Many OTC drugs decided to change their formulas rather than go behind the counter. The replacement decongestant is phenylephrine, which is “is subject to first-pass metabolism and therefore is not bioavailable in currently recommended doses.” In other words, it’s useless as a decongestant.

Because of this, the DayQuil/NyQuil I was taking was pretty much just an extra-strength Tylenol. Which, I can tell you, is no good at clearing up sinuses.

And what’s the kicker to all of this? Instead of methamphetamines being manufactured in labs here in the states, those jobs have been outsourced to Mexico, where the meth is purer (and therefore more dangerous and addictive) and brings all of the perks of international drug trade (like dangerous cartels).

I posted this article a while ago, but didn’t discuss it at the time. Once I got sick and actually dealt with useless decongestants, I decided it merited a second post. It served as the source or inspiration for much of this post. It talks about other downsides of this new law, you should read it this time if you didn’t last time.

The takeaway message from this post? There are two. The first is that if you get sick, buy something with pseudoephedrine it in, because it has a chance of working. The second is that the War on Drugs is idiotic, but you already knew that.


  • I don't know Stu. I'd rather methamphetamine be Schedule II (it isn't strictly illegal, it's controlled) then freely available. I'd rather have to ask the toad behind the counter for Sudafed then have to deal with meth labs and the associated ecological devastation/social decay. Nobody is seriously proposing that we allow this shit. Think a little harder about that one.

    By Blogger Nicholas, at 10:21 PM, January 05, 2007  

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