Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pharmaceutical companies and methamphetamine

I've recently read Methland, a story about the effects of methamphetamine use on a small town in Iowa. (I also assigned it to my crime class).

Now, I don't naturally gravitate toward a critical/ conflict theory of sociologist (i.e., one that focuses on the oppression by the elite), but this book describes the very real ways that big pharmaceutical companies, and their lobbyists, have made the meth epidemic what it is today.

Meth is made with pseudoephedrine--the stuff in cold medicine. Regulating it seems like an easy way to hinder the production of meth, but on numerous occasions the big drug companies fought against it. They didn't want to keep track of imports or sales. In fact, it's possible to make psuedoephedrine so that it can't be used for meth, but they fought that too. I understand that these companies are charged by their shareholders to maximize profits, but at what cost?


Jim said...

As a former narcotics cop who worked meth labs for 6 years, I have some experience here. The manufacturers have fought against regulation of cold medicine. But the prescription drug system is broken in this country. Our biggest drug problem is prescription drugs, not meth. Why put another drug in that category with Oxycodone and hydrocodone, the most abused drugs in the midwest and south? Instead, use the free tracking and blocking system now in 10 states. This has blocked hundreds of thousands of grams from leaving the retailer to be made into meth. The prescriptions systems do not block or even communicate with each other. BTW, there is no known "molecular lock" to prevent PSE from being made into meth. And there are other precursors, such as P2P, that can be converted to meth. This is a complex problem with no silver bullet answer. And don't bring up Oregon, their labs were down by 77% before their prescription law, and every west coast state had a similar reduction without going prescription. Just because the industry has fought against regulation does not meant that any regulation will work.

Brad Wright said...

Very interesting, Jim.

Are Oxycodone and hydrocodone the most abused drugs in the South and Midwest?

Thanks for the info.