Pseudoephedrine: The Phantom Menance

26 Apr

(If it was a real menace, it wouldn’t have ‘pseudo’ in the name!)

I went to buy a nasal decongestant at the local supermarket today.  My allergies are going crazy, and I need something to keep me from sounding like a plague-infected mouth-breather who’d just crawled out of the swamp and was looking for fresh brains.

Of course, I want to buy the stuff with Pseudoephedrine HCl in it, because that’s the only stuff that really works.  Which means, since Pseudoephedrine HCl is one of the precursor chemicals for making meth, I have to go to the pharmacist and present two forms of ID, a DNA sample, and fingerprints from my thumb and two fingers of my choice.  I chose both middle fingers.

Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit about the ID requirements.  But it torques me off no end that I get treated like a criminal every time I want to provide the world with the benefit of me not walking around dripping snot all over everything.  Is one packet of 24 tablets really enough for me to start my own meth lab?  I don’t think so.  If you catch me walking out of the store with twenty packets crammed under my shirt, fair enough.  Feel free to tackle me and even kick me when I’m down.  But one packet, legitimately purchased?  Come on.

What’s even worse is the substitute decongestant you can pick up in the aisle if you want to avoid getting your balls cupped before you leave the store with it.  Phenylephrine.  Sure, a lack of bruised testicles is a big bold check in the PRO column.  But the stuff not working is an almost as big bold check in the CON column.  I know about this lack of efficacy for two reasons.  One, I’ve tried it.  I’ve been very attached to my reproductive bits since completing that oh-so-awkward journey through puberty, and I (and they) really don’t fancy getting a harassment-grade frisking from a store clerk. Two, a doctor friend of mine once explained that the new stuff isn’t metabolized the same way, and you end up pissing something like 80% of the drug out of your body.  I guess I could take 5 times the recommended dose, but that doesn’t seem terribly cost effective to me.  Or safe.

Hmm.  Maybe that’s what’s happening here.  It isn’t government regulation, it Big Pharma trying to sell more OTC decongestants.  I’ll look into that.  But let’s get back to my purchase experience at the local chain grocery store.

The pharmacist is new, so I already know I’m in for a wait.  He takes my driver’s license, which, if you aren’t familiar (and this is important), is the form of ID with my real, honest-to-goodness name and address on it.  He has some trouble entering the data into the government database of potential meth lab operators, which requires getting help from another pharmacist, and then has me sign a tiny LCD screen, presumably to capture my signature, and hopefully not involving me signing away my soul (since there was nothing for me to read, just that blank LCD panel).  I sign it, I run my credit card through the reader, and I enter my phone number since I’m a club member.

Now at this point it is important to note that some nose-dripping mouth breather out there decided to use my home phone number when he signed up for his club card.  The end result of this?  Every time I check out at the store, the clerk smiles and says, “Have a nice day, Mr. Russell.” In case you hadn’t figured it out from the name of my blog, Russell is not my surname.

As the pharmacist is ringing up my sale of this poison so deadly it requires severe government oversight, the first thought after I type in my phone number and hit enter is, “Oh crap, my name’s not associated with this membership.  What kind of trouble is this going to cause me?”

The pharmacist hands me the drugs, my receipt, smiles and says, after literally taking five minutes to enter my personal details onto the government watch list, “Have a nice day, Mr. Russell.”

I feel safer already.


Posted by on 26 April 2011 in Guilty Until Proven Innocent


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 responses to “Pseudoephedrine: The Phantom Menance

  1. pageintraining

    26 April 2011 at 11:31 pm

    My allergy med of choice just hit OTC after being prescription for years so I had to do the whole sign my life away thing for it this week. It was very odd. I’m also not a fan of having to deal with blister packs again. Methinks I will have a discussion with my allergist soon to find a replacement.

  2. Kit Campbell

    27 April 2011 at 2:41 pm

    You know, you can call up Safeway and get the phone number thing fixed.

  3. ianmdudley

    27 April 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Yes, but then the government would know it is me buying all that Pseudoephedrine HCl!


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