Usually, when people think of Southwest Missouri, they think of the conservative bastion of the state. Of course, there are different opinions about what is conservative and what isn’t. The Branson Board of Aldermen seems to be preparing to demonstrate that they can be just as liberal as any other place in the state!

As is true of many other entities throughout Missouri, the Branson Board of Aldermen has the good intentions of protecting us all from the crimes of others by requiring a doctor’s prescription for pseudoephedrine products, which are currently over-the-counter (OTC) medicines.

The Branson aldermen have been sold on the “fact” that this approach will reduce the occurrence of meth production. It may do so temporarily but, as has been the case with other quick-fix approaches, it won’t last long.

Like so many other elected bodies with good intentions, the Branson Board of Aldermen believes increasing the cost of our medical care is a good thing – that, somehow, forcing citizens to pay to go to the doctor to get a prescription for OTC medicines is a good deal. Take it from experience – it’s not!

They haven’t learned the lessons from other places that have passed similar ordinances where consumers have a choice where to shop. Take St. Charles County, for example.

The St. Charles County Council passed an ordinance that requires a doctor’s prescription for OTC medicines containing pseudoephedrine basically in a pill form. Their contention is that other products (such as liquid capsules, etc.), which meth makers have not figured out how to use (YET!), are just as effective. They further assert that “your” doctor will simply phone in the prescription for you. Again, from personal experience – none of it works that way in real life!

The ordinance went into effect on August 30, 2010. Since we live in a world that government fully understands – continue reading after you stop laughing – the St. Charles County ordinance was effective and everyone complied with it, right? Wrong!

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported in “Pseudoephedrine sales jump in cities near St. Charles County” that, thanks to the actions of the St. Charles County government, pseudoephedrine sales actually increased – in other places! To quote the article:

A statewide database showed sales at pharmacies in Bridgeton jumped by 81 percent last month compared with August. The increases in Maryland Heights and Chesterfield were 59 percent and 51 percent, respectively.

The folks pushing this “good intention” bill claim those increases are due to the meth makers going to these places to buy product. Unfortunately for them, the people who are actually interfacing with buyers say it’s in fact law-abiding citizens making the purchases:

Grellner contends that meth-makers from St. Charles County are responsible for most of the buying surge across the county line.

But Robert Elfinger, a spokesman for the Walgreens chain, attributed the sales increase to law-abiding St. Charles County residents.

“Our pharmacy staffs at these locations believe what’s likely occurring is that patients with allergies and seasonal illnesses are traveling to their locations to purchase their medicine rather than making a doctor’s appointment to get a prescription,” Elfinger said.

I can tell you that my family was part of those increased sales figures! We don’t make special trips to get the medication, but as we are in the area we will pick them up often so we have them. We also don’t make meth and neither do the people I talk to who are doing the same!

Apparently, the Branson aldermen do not believe their retailers need the revenue generated from these products. If I’m a retailer in Ozark, Nixa, Springfield, etc. that does not yet have this ordinance in place, I’m all for Branson passing it – the sooner the better!

I don’t doubt the “good intentions” of the Branson Board of Aldermen. I do question whether they have actually studied the proposal and its impacts. As I point out in St. Charles County Council Improving Economy – Elsewhere, there have been a lot of “this will fix the problem” approaches to the scourge of meth production over the years. Each has had a temporary impact.  Most have not adversely affected the law-abiding citizen, as this proposal would.

The Branson Board of Aldermen is introducing this bill (Bill 4084) tomorrow night (Tuesday, February 28, 2012 – 7:00 p.m. – Council Chambers – Branson City Hall – 110 W. Maddux).

Now is the time to let your alderman and mayor know: Thanks for the “good intentions,” but no thanks to bigger government measures! You can find their e-mail addresses and phone numbers at: http://www.cityofbranson.org/mayor-a-board.