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MGA Study Press Release

Date: November 4, 2015

Study Finds Rx-Only Policies for PSE Medicines Would Raise Costs Without Addressing Meth Supply and Demand

Matrix Global Advisors Releases Report on State Efforts to Reduce Meth Production and the Underlying Factors Driving Supply

Washington, D.C. (November 4, 2015) – The economic consulting firm Matrix Global Advisors (MGA) today released a study by MGA CEO Alex Brill on the changing nature of methamphetamine (meth) production and abuse in the United States and proposals to address the problem. In particular, Brill examines proposals to restrict access (specifically Rx-only legislation) to cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine (PSE) and notes that such a drastic measure would cost consumers, insurers, state governments, and the federal government $130 million in the first year. Moreover, it would have no clear impact on either the supply of or demand for meth.

Instead of burdensome Rx-only policies, Brill suggests focusing on the primary source of meth in the United States – foreign production – and proposes increased drug interdiction at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Meth production and use are still serious problems in certain states and regions of the country,” Brill said. “However, prescription-only legislation to limit PSE medicines is a misguided solution. With up to 90 percent of meth in the United States coming from Mexico, prescription-only legislation fails to confront the true source of the epidemic or address demand.”

Because Rx-only legislation would impose more than $40 million in costs on consumers, Brill suggests that states consider more targeted efforts that do not place an unnecessary burden on law-abiding citizens such as banning the sale of PSE products to known meth criminals. This can be done by working with the pharmaceutical industry to continue to expand programs such as the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx). Additionally, the MGA study underscores the need to promote policies to diminish the demand for meth through education programs as well as treatment for those addicted to the drug.

The study confirms a recent report from the National Association of Model State Drug Laws, which assessed the meth landscape in the two states with Rx-only laws – Mississippi and Oregon – and concluded that “the relationship between the PSE prescription laws and the decline in meth lab incidents is spurious.”

“Drug use is a problem of supply and demand,” said Brill. “Even if the supply of drugs is diminished, addicts will pursue alternatives. In addition to efforts to reduce the supply of meth, communities must work together to create education campaigns to stop drug abuse before it begins.”

In addition to serving as CEO of Matrix Global Advisors, Brill is a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and previously served as the chief economist for the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means.