Lawmakers ready assault on cold remedies

With the next session of the Georgia General Assembly on the horizon, members are already beginning to lay out legislative priorities. For many, these efforts include finding new and imaginative ways of expanding government’s already wide-reach into the private lives of the citizens.  Among other products and activities in lawmakers’ sights this session are many of the more effective cold remedies used by Peach State cold sufferers.  

Such products have been under assault by state legislators for years simply because they contain pseudoephedrine, a chemical used in the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine.  After the coming year’s session, in which the Republicans enjoy the largest majority since at least Reconstruction, cold sufferers looking to ease their symptoms with Sudafed and other such remedies will find it increasingly difficult and expensive. 

Among the ideas already being floated under the Gold Dome is the creation of an electronic tracking system that keeps tabs on purchases of allergy and cold medications containing pseudoephedrine.  Also in the future if legislators have their way, these products could no longer be purchased at super markets or convenience stores, but only at drug stores. Another proposal would force cold sufferers to schedule and pay for a visit to a doctor in order to obtain a prescription for a simple cold-relief capsule. 

These proposals target a problem the legislature supposedly solved in 2005 by passing legislation that moved products containing pseudoephedrine behind the counter at stores, and required purchasers to sign a government register kept by the seller. As inconvenient as this earlier law made it for consumers to buy cold medicines, many police chiefs, legislators, and state anti-drug officials continue to clamor for more and tighter controls. 

State Sen. Buddy Carter of Chatham County, for example, is planning to reintroduce legislation to set up an electronic, government-controlled database to monitor the distribution of prescription drugs.  Two years ago, when this legislation was called the “Prescription Drug Monitoring Act,” it was defeated.  This session, in a thinly-veiled ploy to improve chances for passage of the legislation, he cleverly has changed the name of the bill to the “Patient Safety Act.” 

Advocates of this proposed law point out that more than 40 states have implemented a prescription drug monitoring program; and some of those states are pressuring Georgia to join them. 

The problem with this legislation is it treats all prescription drug users as suspected criminals; and it ignores Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable, warrantless searches.  The legislation also would be harmful to the doctor-patient relationship, because doctors would be required to factor in the reporting of their prescriptions to the government before writing one for a patient.  The threat of being themselves constantly monitored for “over prescribing” medications would weigh on the physicians’ decisions as well. 

In a February report by John Stossel on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s war on prescription drugs, he noted that more than half the patients with severe chronic pain do not receive enough painkillers to ease their suffering. Unfortunately, legislators often fail to realize the laws they pass can actually harm real people, and ultimately can lead people in severe pain to do desperate things. 

The “carrot” of federal grant money is being bandied about as an incentive to pass drug-monitoring legislation.  While often a short-term incentive for states to pass bills the feds favor, sooner or later the federal money dries up and the states are left on their own fiscal resources.  Still, the beat goes on. 

The slippery slope of government regulation undercutting our privacy clearly is illustrated by these recurrent efforts to catch a handful of lawbreakers, by regulating businesses and by inconveniencing and restricting the general, law-abiding population.  These actions also vividly show why the Republican Party in Georgia by and large is no longer the party of smaller, less-intrusive government. 

-by Bob Barr, The Barr Code

39 comments Add your comment

Karl Marx

December 6th, 2010
6:14 am

The party of “Less Government” and “Lower Taxes” HA no such thing. The State Republicans proved last session that they could tax and spend faster than state Democrats. In fact as fast as the DEM legislatures are jumping ship they will all be Republicans by the end of the next session. VOTE THEM ALL OUT if you really want to get their attention.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bob Barr, Jason Pye. Jason Pye said: RT @bobbarr: Barr Code: Lawmakers ready assault on cold remedies [...]

Enough Already

December 6th, 2010
7:13 am

I am fed up with having to show ID in order to purchase medications and now they want us to see a doctor in order to get common cold relief? Do they know about the doctor shortage going on across the US? What about all the uninsured folks who can’t just “pop in” to the doctors office to get checked out in order to get cold meds? I think the GOP is letting things get to their heads and this could be horrible for us all. Please call or write your local GA St. Reps and tell them this nuts and to work on getting jobs and traffic figured out, something that needs a good looking at.


December 6th, 2010
7:16 am

When the Georgia General Assembly begins to lay out legislative priorities, you may be sure that catering to the big corporate special interests will be number one on the list. Go thru this “assault on cold remidies” carefully and, if all this passes, more money will wind up in the hands of the big special interests.

Ted Striker

December 6th, 2010
7:27 am

All of the proposals are pretty bad ideas and unfortunately, there are too few people who care about privacy and efficiency.

Joel Edge

December 6th, 2010
7:35 am

Thanks for the heads up. I need to go and resupply on Advil cold and sinus anyway. That new stuff just doesn’t do it.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Wendie Nay, Crime & Corruption. Crime & Corruption said: assault on cold remedies – Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]


December 6th, 2010
7:47 am

Shouldn’t your discussion of this issue include something about the manufacture of meth? And the cost of meth addiction? And the effectiveness of these controls in addressing the problem?

Your conclusion may or may not change when these factors are explored, but the analysis of the legislation is incomplete with out this exploration.

barking frog

December 6th, 2010
7:51 am

The drug war is over, the drugs have surrendered.

sean smith

December 6th, 2010
8:01 am

What a bunch of Whiners. A little inconvience when you want to buy one type of the many cold medicines out there. Folks METH is a serious problem that effects all of us, Crime, driving while high. Making pseudoephedrine a prescription drug has shown in many places to DRAMATICLY reduce production of Crystal Meth. Quit your bitchin and suck it up, this is a small price to pay to reduce the METH problem. I am surprised that Bob being a former prosecutor would have a problem with this.

Joel Edge

December 6th, 2010
8:17 am

I hesitate to point out that drug production will continue. Them clever little back room chemists will come up with another way to manufacture meth or the next drug. Restricting pseudoephedrine even more will largely inconvenience lawful users, not the crooks. I won’t look forward to going to a doctor just to get something to curtail a sinus headache. Saying “suck it up ” now will be repeated the next time that the nannies try to control, contain, or make more expensive the next over the counter med.


December 6th, 2010
8:22 am

I don’t know about you guys but I thought we already had this? Every time I need to pick up some Claritin D during allergy season, they scan my driver’s license. I hit the 3.6g 30-day limit when I forgot my pills at home and needed to get some more at my office CVS. They said I could only buy the smaller 10 pill package. It was a minor annoyance at most and I’d rather put up w/ this rather than having my car stereo stolen by meth heads in the ‘burbs (has happened more often than hitting the pill restriction).

sean smith

December 6th, 2010
8:57 am

Joel, you are right, the chemist will no doubt come up with some other formula in the future. But right now METH is our problem. In area’s like the west and in Mexico where they have made pseudoephedrine a prescription drug METH cook labs have decreased by 50-80%. We have tried a number of other solutions and so far this is the most effective.


December 6th, 2010
9:00 am

sean smith

December 6th, 2010
8:01 am

“Making pseudoephedrine a prescription drug has shown in many places to DRAMATICLY reduce production of Crystal Meth. ”

Considering prohibition,

this guy has to be a complete dumbarse or a government worker.
Sorry for the redundency.

Ivan Cohen

December 6th, 2010
9:55 am

Sean, what are you going to say when you or someone in your family has a common cold and cannot go into the drugstore and purchase pseudoephedrine like you used to? Controls on medicines are already here unfortunately. I notice they keep Father John’s behind the counter now. As for Meth, pretty much a home-produced product. Effingham County is known as Methingham in some quarters.

Bryan G.

December 6th, 2010
10:05 am

I’m willing to be that the people that feel like there should be MORE gov’t regulation into Sudafed want LESS regulation into guns.

Basically, the General Assembly thinks (a) law abiding citizens with guns in restaurants and parks is okay but (b) law abiding citizens buying sudafed is not.

Oh the irony of the fake “small government” Republicans.

Pats and Taps

December 6th, 2010
10:14 am

The government: They can land a man on the moon, and track each and every one of us, but they just can’t seem to cure the common cold. The meth industry is run by a handful of outlaws and expanding government’s already wide reach into the lives of citizens may seem a sniveling thing to do. But, Bob Barr, it’s unwise to keep tweeking the government’s nose over law and order remedies. The threat posed by meth labs are nothing to sneeze at. Look, coughing up a liberty here and there is not the end of the world, but a child on meth with a handgun and thinking about turning gay is a problem. I found that out the hard way from the inside, man. ….. Dont ask, don’t take a pill.



December 6th, 2010
10:44 am

These actions also vividly show why the Republican Party in Georgia by and large is no longer the party of smaller, less-intrusive government.

Yes, Bob, I am gratified that there is a conservative out there who finally admits the truth. The GA Republican experiment is just another cover-up for greedy politicians (power corrupts). They tell you they are for smaller and less intrusive government. They lie. Believe a politicians words and slogans, either Republican or Democrat, and you put yourself a risk. Here’s a twist to an old slogan, “Let the voter beware”.


December 6th, 2010
10:47 am

The GOP is more and more becoming a Party that should be ran by Stalin. I’ve never been a fan of the Democrats (consider myself moderate right), but the Republicans have gotten to the point they literally scare me. No telling what this country would be like if they actually got their way.


December 6th, 2010
11:39 am


How do you feel abot the Patriot Act, as you are so concerned about Government interference with your privacy?


December 6th, 2010
11:47 am

What’s this “big meth problem”?

Is it akin to the “big terrorist problem”?

Or the “big deficit problem”?

Or the “big climate change” problem?

Or the “big health care problem”?

Or does have to do with the “big no jobs” problem?


December 6th, 2010
11:57 am

Family doctors are already overwhelmed, the last thing they need is patients coming in to get prescriptions for cold tablets. That’s just crazy. As it is they’re bombarded with requests for the drugs people see advertised on TV that claim to treat the various syndromes du jour.


December 6th, 2010
12:14 pm

The drug manufacturer gladly just ship to Mexico large quantities and they know its for Meth. No problems have been solved, just makes it more expensive.

You can’t always solve social problems with legal remedies.

Is is a strong drug or a weak person?


December 6th, 2010
12:27 pm

It is rather comforting to know that everyone is in the Federal “data bank” no information, no matter how trite or small is there. Of course, what do we know about government, it is only fair that no matter how small and trifiling the information is about our lawakers, it should be in our own “data bank”. What is fair for one is fair for all. Democracy expects it and we should expect it also. If they go to the drug store for a prescription, let us know, we will be more informed when the time comes to decide who we want in office. Transparency, reciprocal transparency keeps our democracy alive and well.


December 6th, 2010
12:42 pm

I sure the Mexicans can bring all the drugs the meth heads need across the border and the USA won’t do anything about it!


December 6th, 2010
2:58 pm

Good info on this meth drug war on sudafed:


December 6th, 2010
3:14 pm

Making pseudoephedrine a presciption drug is a very poorly-conceived idea. In order to get a prescription, a doctor’s visit is required to obtain a presciption or I have to call and request that one be phoned in. My copay for the visit is $25 on my current insurance. I can also imagine the horrendous backlog this will create in the doctor’s office and his/her switchboard.

This is the wrong way to approach the problem. I think that requiring a valid photo ID tracking the buyers is more effective. The only way to mass-produce methamphetamine from pseudoephedrine is to mass-purchase pseudoephedrine – eliminating the mass-purchases (or thefts) is the place to start.

Raymond Huffman

December 6th, 2010
4:08 pm

Why is anybody surprised? Sudafed deprives the pharmaceutical industry of potentially profitable cold treatments, effectiveness notwithstanding. Just a few weeks ago Darvocet was removed from the market after some 40 years. If it causes heart trouble, then millions of people will be dying from heart disease very soon (they will anyway, but…). With Darvocet off the market (which is 500mg of acetamenophen), Pharma can replace those million-some prescriptions with $50/per pill pain killers!

I’m surprised they would try to further restrict sudafed. The current laws have done WONDERS! Hardly anybody gets addicted to drugs anymore thanks to laws like these.


December 6th, 2010
4:09 pm

i wonder if bob barr’s wife had to show her id for the abortion she had that bob payed for??…

Prohibition Does Not Work.

December 6th, 2010
5:33 pm

It’s time that the gov’t stop inconveniencing law abiding citizens to catch meth heads. Let them destroy their own lives… who gives a sh*t? I am sick and damn tired of waiting in line for 20 minutes to buy pseudoephedrine from a pharmacist. The way I see it, 200 million people are waiting an hour a year to prevent 1 million from screwing themselves. Figure out what 200 million man hour hours is costing america. I’d rather just give the meth heads all the meth that they can handle. Let Darwin decide.

[...] Gold Dome want to make sure when fellow Georgians spread their germy goodness, everyone suffers. Bob Barr weighs in – Among other products and activities in lawmakers’ sights this session are many [...]

Gov. James Jackson

December 6th, 2010
6:40 pm

As for cold remedies, I’ll stick with a mixture of honey, lemon, and untaxed liquor.

Jeb@11:39am: Here’s an excerpt from a Reason magazine interview with Barr in Dec. 2003:

“Reason: Do you regret voting for the USA PATRIOT Act?

Barr: I do. I was hoping at the time that it would not be used as a floor but as a ceiling. But it’s been a taking-off point for expanded authority in a number of areas. Perhaps most important is the fact that the administration seems to be pushing its application as broadly as it can in nonterrorism cases. And despite the assurances by the administration that Section 215, which relates to obtaining records from libraries and other repositories, is not being used, the fact is it is being used.

It has become much more problematic because it’s part of a growing list of privacy-invasive government programs, such as TIA [Terrorism Information Awareness]. They changed the name [from Total Information Awareness] and John Poindexter has left the Defense Department, but I’ve seen nothing that indicates to me proof that TIA is absolutely dead with a stake driven through its heart and burned and its head cut off, which is how Steve Forbes used to describe what we needed to do with the IRS. So my presumption is that it in some form or fashion is continuing.

We have now the emergence of the CAPPS II system — the airline passenger profiling system. We have, apparently, a number of state efforts that are being funded by the federal government, such as the one that just came to light called the Matrix system, down in Florida, where the feds are providing grant monies to state agencies to set up programs similar to TIA.”


December 6th, 2010
7:04 pm

The common non-regulated replacement for pseudoephedrine–phenylephrine–was found by Consumer Reports (no libertarians there!) to be no more effective than placebo at relieving congestion, at current FDA-approved OTC doses. In fact, before the whole meth thing, the FDA was considering taking phenylephrine off the market for being ineffective.

Now, the FDA has changed its tune on phenylephrine to encourage its use, despite its own research showing it to be worthless.

@Sean Smith: It’s ALWAYS a “small price to pay”, isn’t it? Ask Dave Ramsey how quickly small prices can wreck your budget and ask the granny that was thrown in JAIL for buying one too many boxes of cold meds for her grandkid how quickly small prices can wreck your freedom.

If it saves one life, it is NOT always worth it. My life, with freedom intact, is worth much more than that.


December 6th, 2010
8:15 pm

This legislation isn’t going to have any meaningful effect on meth addiction any more than prohibition had on alcoholism. The only bigger failure than prohibition is the war on drugs.


December 7th, 2010
7:11 am

This is simply the wrong time for gov. to be working on this. Somebody’s getting a payoff here!

Sorry to BIG MED, but I won’t go to any doctor for a cold prescription.

mrs. w

December 7th, 2010
11:19 am

I had to give my first born to buy Advil Cold & Sinus last winter. Seriously, it is very annoying to have to jump through the hoops when you already feel like crap. If those yahoo’s want to kill themselves on whatever it is they make with cold meds. then I say let em’ and good ridance. It is also very annoying that my M.D. of 20 plus years, who knows my medical history frontwards and backwards now seems to be afraid to write a presrciption for pain meds. on the very rare occasion that I may need them. My govt. needs to stay out of my healthcare.

A. J. C . Smith

December 7th, 2010
11:54 am

The Nanny state knows no party, tends to no one’s real needs, is all inclusive. Hello, Big Brother.


December 7th, 2010
8:46 pm

” the Republican Party in Georgia by and large is no longer the party of smaller, less-intrusive government.”

I can’t think back far enough to when they ever WERE the party of smaller, less-intrusive government, in Georgia or the entire country.

Olivia Green

December 11th, 2010
9:30 am

You honestly think that your being inconvenienced is not worth a huge decrease in the production of meth? You would rather be able to easily purchase Sudafed, which doesn’t even cure a cold, then lower crime and drug use in your state? This kind of mentatlity is why this country is in such a mess, people know what the right thing to do is, but once it involves a little sacrifice or “inconvenience” they no longer care. Furthermore other states, like Oregon and Mississippi, have already banned the drug to prescription status and I haven’t seen a cold epidemic in either state.