Thursday, April 10, 2008

Allergy medicine law pads GOP donor's profits

The recent federal law that makes people sign a log to buy cold and allergy medicine and needlessly rations how much they can buy (the Rockefeller drug law of the 21st century) is like what school uniforms were in the '96 campaign: Nobody can criticize it, but by golly, I do. Like uniforms, it's a corporate-backed gimmick that pleases only a few exurban voters and pads the coffers of well-connected businesses. Also like uniforms, it actually makes the public less safe.

I saw an article today on one of my local news sites in which law enforcement practically admitted the law was ineffective at stopping people from using the drugs to make meth - because if a meth maker really wanted to get that much allergy medicine, they'd buy it at different stores.

But the media has swept under the rug a damning factoid about this right-wing statute, which is part of the reauthorized Idiot Act. You see, the drugs covered by this law contain ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, or phenylpropanolamine. Which means they were effective for nasal allergies. In fact, these drugs were about the only things you could get at a drugstore that worked at all.

Because of the new difficulty in buying products with these ingredients, many of the drugs now instead contain phenylephrine - which everyone agrees doesn't work worth a damn. This isn't just anecdotal. Pharmacists and researchers have backed up the claims that it's useless. Still, it's largely replaced pseudoephedrine.

But I've learned a strange thing. This phenylephrine that doesn't work is made by Boehringer-Ingelheim. Though they're a German corporation, they're not foreign to American politics. They have PAC's and lobbyists in the good ol' U.S. and A. And they donate heavily to American political campaigns. Some 73% of their donations go to Republicans.

And isn't it weird that the amount of money Boehringer-Ingelheim spent lobbying Congress peaked during the years this law was being voted on, then declined in 2007?

At least now we know we can blame 73% of the anti-pseudoephedrine law on the GOP.

Now that we know one of the main purposes of this law was to pad some drug maker's profits, and that meth abuse has increased since it passed, can we repeal it? What? We can't??? Oh well. Guess the major parties aren't getting any votes from me any time soon.

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