Patient Advocacy Group Cites Study to Oppose Prescription-Only Pseudoephedrine Laws
A Fenton proposal was debated for months before finally being defeated by the Board of Aldermen.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) is out with a new poll re-confirming what AAFA already learned from a previous study and from 60 years of continual nonprofit service to the asthma and allergy community: patients nationwide – even in Missouri – strongly oppose proposed laws to change popular over-the-counter (OTC) medications to prescription-only (Rx) status, the organization said in a news release
The issue has been a big one in Fenton in recent months as the aldermen debated a bill to to require a doctor's prescription to purchase such pseudoephedrine (PSE) products as Sudafed and Actifed. After months of consideration and debate, the bill came to a vote in January but was defeated by the Fenton Board of Aldermen. It is likely to be reintroduced in the coming months. A prescription is required in Jefferson County to purchase PSE products, but not in St. Louis County.
More than 45 million Americans have nasal allergies, more than 22 million have asthma and over 10 million have both, according to the AAFA. It said respiratory diseases take a devastating toll on public health, costing billions of dollars in direct medical expenses, reducing quality of life, lowering workplace and school performance, and can even be life-threatening to high-risk populations, such as asthma patients.
That’s why so many families rely on quick and affordable access to effective FDA-approved over-the-counter (OTC) and Rx medications for controlling symptoms of these diseases. “It’s easy for AAFA to be on the patients’ side of this issue,” said Charlotte Collins, AAFA’s vice president of policy and programs in the news release. “The data shows us that patients already deal with the burdens of these chronic diseases, so adding restrictions on top of the burdens they already face would be a real problem. And, they know the best way to stop criminals involved in the illegal meth trade is through law enforcement and other proven methods, not by doctors’ prescriptions.”
“This is just common sense, “Collins said. “Meth crimes are serious, with sometimes tragic outcomes, but doctors are not substitutes for police, and patients should not be penalized for crimes by meth makers.”
As part of the its study, AAFA also conducted an oversample in a few states, including Missouri, because legislators have recently passed laws dealing with access to pseudoephedrine (PSE). AAFA wanted to determine how attitudes in Missouri compared to the rest of the country after several months of local media coverage on PSE and meth-related issues. AAFA found that, even in these states, the majority of patients still oppose Rx-only laws.
Creating More Burdens for Patients is the Wrong Approach
18 million households in the U.S. depend on OTC medicines containing pseudoephedrine (PSE) to relieve their common symptoms, but direct and immediate access to these medications for patients continues to be threatened by some states looking at requiring prescriptions as a way to stop illegal meth makers. Now, patients are speaking up to let policymakers know that this is not the right solution. In recent years, policymakers in a number of states have proposed Rx-only laws that were eventually defeated in large part because patients and families are overwhelmingly opposed.
Following AAFA’s first poll in 2010 showing that the majority of asthma, allergy, cold and flu patients opposed changing popular OTC medications to Rx status, the nonprofit patient organization worked with the Harris Interactive research organization to conduct a 2013 follow-on study to look more into the burdens that patients face and fear. The results show that a clear majority (62 percent) of those surveyed continue to be opposed to Rx-only restrictions. Even in Missouri where AAFA and Harris oversampled to get state-specific data, a majority of patients (60 percent) oppose Rx-only laws.
Additionally, AAFA’s 2013 study looked beyond the original set of questions in 2010 to better learn more about the burdens patients currently face, the related costs, and the fear that new additional burdens would be created if access to the safe and effective OTC medications they rely on was restricted. Survey results show that patients already face costs and burdens associated with treating their common symptoms.
- Nationally, two-thirds of respondents (64%) say they are managing medications for 2 or more people in their household – 72% in MO
- Nationally, people surveyed deal with allergy symptoms for more than 2 months per year (69.5 days on average) – 77 days in MO
- Only 1-in-five surveyed in the national study can get in to see their doctor the same day, with nearly one quarter (22%) having to wait more than a week to get an appointment – 32% in MO
- Nationally, patients say that two-in-five (42%) of their visits to the doctor require time off of work, with one-third (31%) saying that their doctor visits always take place during their work hours – in MO 29% say doctor visits always take place during work hours
- When including drive time, waiting-room time and the visit itself, only 1-in-five patients nationwide spend less than an hour when visiting the doctor, with nearly one-third (30%) requiring 2 or more hours per visit; one-in-ten (9%) require 3 or more hours per visit – in MO, 36% require 2-plus hours
- The majority of patients in the national surveyed (59%) spend at least $20 per doctor visit, plus 4-out-of-5 of them (82%) are also paying to fill prescriptions frequently or occasionally for themselves or family members – whereas in MO, 66% spend $20 per visit and 81% also occasionally or frequently pay for prescriptions
AAFA has posted survey updates online for the public and policymakers at www.aafa.org/pse so people can learn what to do in their own states to fight meth while also preserving access to OTC medications.
“Patients are really concerned about extreme local laws that limit their freedom to access meds,” Collins said, “And AAFA is working with patients nationwide to teach lawmakers about better solutions. We want to make sure that the patient voice is heard.”
About the Survey
AAFA’s National Pseudoephedrine (PSE) Awareness Study was conducted online in January 2013 among more than 2,000 U.S. adults age 18+ who personally suffered from asthma, allergies, cold, cough or flu in the preceding 12 months and purchased non-prescription medications for at least one condition during that time. The poll was conducted for AAFA by Harris Interactive, supported by a grant from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA). The study was conducted online and used Harris Interactive’s proprietary propensity weighting to ensure the online sample reflects general population trends. For a full copy of the survey report, and to learn what you can do in your state to fight meth and preserve access to OTC medications, visit www.aafa.org/pse.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), a not-for-profit organization founded in 1953, is the leading patient organization for people with asthma, allergies and related conditions. AAFA is dedicated to improving the quality of life for patients through education, advocacy and research. AAFA provides practical information, community based services and support through a network of regional chapters, support groups and other local partners around the United States. For more information, visit www.aafa.org.