WASHINGTON, Jan. 24, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 300 million Americans get the common cold, and up to 70 million get the flu annually. But for the 60 million people who also have asthma and allergies, a cold or flu can pose even greater risks. Together, these 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.
While over 16 million children and adults in the U.S. depend on over-the-counter (OTC) medicines containing pseudoephedrine (PSE) for relief and care, direct and immediate access to these medications is being threatened by some states looking at requiring prescriptions for them. Although alternatives exist for some, OTC medicines containing PSE are the only oral decongestants available for 12- and 24- hour relief, and for many, these medicines are the only oral decongestants that work for them. Without timely access to these OTC options, negative health consequences could result for many patients.
Regrettably, some criminals divert PSE-containing medicines to illegally manufacture methamphetamine. In response, a small number of states and cities have suggested these OTC medications be made "prescription only," but patients and doctors are beginning to speak up to let policy makers know that this is not the right solution.
Strong Opposition to "Prescription-Only" Measures
In a recent survey by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) (www.aafa.org/pse), researchers found that seven in ten asthma, allergy, cold, cough and flu sufferers who purchased non-prescription medicine for their condition (71%) oppose "prescription-only" laws.
"Taking away patient freedom by requiring prescriptions for important over-the-counter medications i