Study: Prescription-only PSE legislation carries a significant cost burden
WASHINGTON — Prescription-only pseudoephedrine laws result in well more than $278 million in additional burdens to taxpayers, according to a study published by Matrix Global Advisors on Monday.
"With any public policy that restricts access to a product that is good for some people but misused by others there are inherent distortions, costs and loss of consumer welfare," author Alex Brill wrote. "A policy decision based solely on a concern about the diversion of PSE medicines to meth production is shortsighted because it only considers one side of the issue — the thousands of meth cooks and their domestic meth labs — and not the 18 million families who legitimately need PSE medicines for relief from colds and allergies.
The study broke down many of the costs prescription-only PSE polices accrue, including:
- The extra doctor visits necessary to get a PSE prescription contribute $59 million in additional costs to the government, consumers and private insurance companies in the first year following the policy’s implementation;
- For those consumers who forego a trip to the doctor, the lack of symptomatic relief will likely result in more absenteeism and lost work productivity, adding to the estimated $25 billion annually in lost productivity already attributed to the common cold;
- PSE consumers may realize some sticker shock as prices for PSE medicines are increased once the cost of adjudicating a prescription is factored into the pricing formula;
- Health insurance premiums may increase due to additional doctor visits and higher PSE drug costs; and
- Overall government services may be curtailed as an estimated loss of $219.2 million in state tax revenues is amortized over 10 years.
And all that additional cost wouldn’t even guarantee a reduction in methamphetamine abuse, the study noted. "On top of creating financial burdens, a prescription-only PSE policy would not be 100% effective at eliminating PSE diversion because it does not address theft and fraudulent prescriptions for these medicines," noted Brill. "In fact, many prescription drugs are heavily abused, despite their prescription status, to the extent that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has labeled prescription drug abuse a ‘public health epidemic.’ According to the 2011 National Drug Threat Assessment, deaths from prescription drug overdoses outnumber deaths due to cocaine, heroin and meth combined."
But the primary direct economic burden of making PSE medicines prescription-only arises from the extra doctor visits the policy change necessitates, Brill said. Brill referenced a 2011 Avalere Health study that found there was an estimated 579,315 additional doctor visits in the first year after implementation of the policy. "Using a per-visit estimate for private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid of $94, $76, and $70 per physician visit, respectively, Avalere estimated $32.4 million in additional costs for private and public payers," Brill noted.
The study was supported by a grant from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association.
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GMDC names new board members
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Global Market Development Center on Friday announced five new member representatives to its board for a two-year term.
As of Jan. 1, 2013, newly elected board officers include GMDC chairman Bill Anderson, group VP of drug store, beauty, general merchandise, floral and services for H-E-B; GMDC vice-chairman Dewayne Rabon, VP general merchandise/HBC/family care for BI-LO/Winn-Dixie; and GMDC secretary/treasurer Steve Davis, director of center store, GM/HBC and grocery nonfoods at Weis Markets.
The new directors to the board include David Lowe, senior director of HBC/GM/seasonal at C&S Wholesale Grocers; Michael O’Shell, director of center store at Rouses Enterprises; Bob Richardson, director of sales, industry and customer development at Clorox/Burt’s Bees; Mitch Terry, VP sales and merchandising HBC/GM at the Associated Grocers of Florida; and Kathy Williams, senior business manager of GM/HBC at Raley’s Family of Fine Stores.
In a statement announcing the new appointments, GMDC expressed gratitude for its immediate past-chairman from 2011 to 2012 — Anthea Jones, SVP operations and president of BI-LO — "for his hard work and dedication to the board."
Sam’s Club offers allergy screenings
BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Sam’s Club will offer free allergy and health screenings at all of its stores that operate pharmacies, the club retailer said.
The screenings will take place late Saturday morning and into the afternoon, and include up to $200 worth of tests, including allergy screenings for milk, eggs, pet dander, mold, dust mites, wheat, ragweed, mountain cedar, Bermuda grass and Timothy grass, as well as tests for blood pressure, body mass index and vision.
"It can be difficult to tell the difference between allergies and a persistent head cold since symptoms, such as congestion and irritated eyes, are often similar," Sam’s Club SVP health and wellness Jill Turner-Mitchael said. "Furthermore, as people age, they can grow out of allergies or develop new ones. Sam’s Club can help our communities sort through such confusion with free allergy and health screenings and on-site pharmacists who can offer advice on how to treat identified allergies."
The retailer has provided more than 2.2 million free health-and-wellness screenings since 2010 and plans to continue offering them every second Saturday of each month through October. The company also is offering allergy tips in the March-April 2013 issue of the Healthy Living Made Simple Magazine that it sends out to members.