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Missouri Wonk Says Prescription-Only Laws Only Cost Consumers

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri Wonk, founded by the former Joint Committee on Tax Policy executive director Brian Schmidt, released a study this week regarding prescription-only state policy, specific to pseudoephedrine. Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant commonly used in cold medicine and found used in methamphetamine.

There is not currently a prescription-only law in Missouri, but it has been discussed among lawmakers.

The study found that requiring the decongestant to be prescription-only would have a net economic impact of more than $43 million in additional health care costs in Missouri.

Of the costs, more than $5 million of which would be out-of-pocket expenses for consumers, while $11.6 million would be in Medicare cost increases. The study also goes farther to say that the requirement would cause the economy to lose $8.5 million in worker productivity from the additional physician office visits to obtain a prescription.

“In many cases, obtaining a prescription involves visiting a healthcare provider, which may also involve taking time off work and as a result, lost productivity and/or wages,” Schmidt told the Missouri Times. “These visits to health care providers increase consumers’ out-of-pocket costs as well as health insurance companies’ costs, the latter of which are often passed onto consumers in the form of higher health insurance premiums. Some healthcare expenses are borne by Medicare and Medicaid, which means taxpayers foot the bill for the additional healthcare provider visits.”

Oregon has created a prescription-only requirement, but has seen no decrease in meth use or production. In Missouri, St. Charles and Jefferson County, Cape Girardeau, Poplar Bluff, Kirksville, Branson, Hollister, and all the municipalities of Franklin County have local ordinances requiring prescriptions. Jefferson County is reportedly the highest in the state for meth labs and looks to hold their position of No. 1 despite the county-wide ordinance.

Schmidt shared that states such as Oklahoma and Alabama have passed meth offender block lists, which prohibit meth offenders from being able to buy pseudoephedrine-based products.

“Both states have experienced significant progress as a result, with Oklahoma seeing a 50 percent reduction in meth lab incidents since 2012,” Schmidt said.