Leave my cold medicine alone

If 63 Nevada legislators get their way, I’ll be wasting more time and money in doctors’ offices just to get the simple over-the-counter decongestant I use to treat minor colds and allergies.

A proposed bill that would make decongestants with pseudoephedrine, among other things, available only with a doc’s prescription perhaps makes sense as a frontal assault in the War on Drugs. Pseudoephedrine is used to make meth. Stop its sale—and, voila! No more drug labs in trailer parks.

That’s bad logic. Meth makers will find ways to obtain meth ingredients—over the Internet, if nothing else. Even without meth, substance abusers will find substances to abuse.

Turning cold medicine into a prescription drug complicates life needlessly for everyone, especially those 400,000 Nevadans without health insurance. For them, a trip to a doctor to obtain a prescription for cold medicine costs money they don’t have—and means missing work they can’t afford to miss.

Last year, I caught a hellish virus.

I’d been coughing, dripping, aching, plugging up and breathing through my mouth at night for a couple of weeks. Two things allowed me to continue my over-worked, under-rested lifestyle: ibuprofen and a store-brand version of Sudafed.

“You should really see a doctor,” friends advised.

“There’s nothing they can do for a viral infection,” I replied.

“You should really see a doctor,” family members pressed.

“Fine,” I conceded. “I’ll go.”

I called my family practitioner. He was out of town or couldn’t fit me in.

“Try urgent care,” I was told.

Thankfully, I’d changed insurance since the time when my plan’s nearest urgent care clinic was in Susanville.

So I didn’t go to work one morning. Instead, I went to a clinic in Sparks where workers wore face masks. The lobby was filled with coughing, dripping, aching sickies. I waited two hours to see a doctor. A receptionist said I was lucky—the wait could have been much longer.

“What seems to be the problem?” the doctor asked. His voice had a familiar nasally sound. He coughed softly.

I described my symptoms.

“What have you been taking?” he asked.

“Sudafed and ibuprofen.”

“Perfect,” he replied. “That’s exactly what I’d recommend. Sounds like you have what I have. And that’s what I’m taking”

“But it’s been two weeks,” I said.

“Yeah, this one can last a month,” he said, reassuringly. “Try an over-the-counter saline nasal spray.”

For his advice, I paid a co-payment of $30. I went to a drug store and bought nasal spray and a supply of tiny red pills in foil packs. At the time, these were sold behind the counter.

Today, I’d have to sign a register and show my identification to buy Sudafed with pseudoephedrine. I’ve done this in other states. It’s no big deal. No time and money wasted on a doctor’s visit.

Over-the-counter meds with pseudoephedrine are the only decongestants that work for me. I take the stuff for colds—and for spring allergies. There’s a “clean” version of Sudafed—without pseudoephedrine—but it’s useless.

Nevada Assembly Bill 150, now getting hugs and kisses from the Assembly Health and Human Services Committee, redefines ephedrine, pseudoephedrine and other active ingredients found in cold medicines as controlled substances.

In the wake of anti-drug propaganda campaigns like the Crystal Darkness thing broadcast on all three TV stations, it’d be hard for lawmakers to stand up to the hype and make the best choice for constituents.

No one wants to make life easier for the icky evil low-lives who find existence made more tolerable through ingestion of chemicals.

Oh wait, that’s me. And it might be you, too.