What Are the Pseudoephedrine Purchase Limits and Why Do They Exist?


How many of you think it is a major pain to have to purchase all products containing pseudoephedrine from behind the pharmacy counter? Sometimes the lines are long. Sometimes you have to wait for the staff to figure out someone else’s insurance problem. Sometimes you might be in the store but the pharmacy department is closed! Every time you have to hand over your driver’s license and have your purchase logged on a trackable database. I mean, you just have a stuffy nose. You know how to treat it. It’s not like you are buying some dangerous controlled substance. What’s the deal?

Pseudoephedrine purchase limits or some call them Sudafed purchase limits, have been a practice for a relatively long time now, so most of us are used to it. It is just part of the deal if you want to buy pseudoephedrine. But, where did these rules come from and why were they implemented in the first place? And why does my spell check keep telling me I am spelling pseudoephedrine wrong? It is making me doubt myself.

This all centers around the tremendous problem that our country has with methamphetamine or “crystal meth”. Pseudoephedrine can be chemically broken down and the separated components can be used to manufacture methamphetamine. This is done in small, clandestine labs all over the country and the finished product is sold illegally. I could probably find a recipe to link here but, hopefully, my readers wouldn’t be interested in starting a lab. If you remember in Breaking Bad, as business started booming, Jessie was having problems getting enough “pseudo” to keep up with demand.

The Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 is where the federal government stepped in and decided to restrict access to pseudoephedrine for everyone, in hopes of curtailing the manufacture of crystal meth. The decision was made to create a pseudoephedrine purchase database to track all purchases across the country. It has helped to some extent, but it sure does make things difficult for all of us chronic allergy sufferers who need pseudoephedrine frequently. The pseudoephedrine purchase limits, as determined by the federal government, are no more than 3.6 grams per day and no more than 9 grams per 30-day period. To help you with the math: 1,000mg = 1 gram. Claritin D 24 hour contains 240mg per tablet so it only takes 15 tablets to get you to the daily max: 240 x 15 = 3600mg.

Fifteen tablets is enough to get you by, but what if your spouse takes it too? A lot of people think they can just go to another pharmacy and purchase more. A failed strategy. The database is kept up to date in real-time and you will be denied at another store the same day. The monthly pseudoephedrine limit gives you a little more leeway, but not much. Your only real answer is to take turns buying pseudoephedrine products or only buy for yourself, and let your spouse buy their own.

Purchases exceeding the federal pseudoephedrine limits can result in a misdemeanor arrest for possession.

Can I get a prescription?

Yes, that is actually a really good solution and it exempts you from all of the pseudoephedrine purchase limits. Because you are under the supervision of a physician, you may get as much as you need and you do not have to register that on the database. Another benefit to this plan is that you can pay with your flexible spending card if you have one. Unfortunately, your insurance will usually not pick up the tab for you because these products are still classified as over-the-counter. It will be up to your doctor if he or she wants to help you out. It is possible that some of the side effects may make them hesitant to give you more than what you can buy on your own.

Can I Look Up My Pseudoephedrine Purchase History?

Your pharmacy will tell you if you have exceeded either the daily or monthly limit. Sometimes you will have to come back another day. Other times, you might be eligible if you just ask for a smaller amount. If you do exceed the limit, your pharmacy can give you a transaction id number and you can use that number to track your pseudoephedrine purchase history at this site.

I haven’t been able to find a place where you can search your pseudoephedrine purchase history without a transaction id number. The database, called nplexanswers, covers most states. States that do not use nplexanswers have their own systems to track purchase history.

Another way you might treat your sinus congestion is by using a steroid nasal spray. Steroid nasal sprays are easy to use, are sold over the counter, and maybe a more effective way to control sinus congestion. Steroid nasal sprays will not increase your blood pressure and are particularly effective if your sinus congestion is allergy related. Read my review article to see which ones I recommend.

The moral of this story is: don’t be mad at your pharmacist for asking for your id, or telling you that you can’t have any more Sudafed right now. This is a federal law. We don’t have a choice. Our government wants to make sure you aren’t driving around in a Winnebago wearing a yellow hazmat suit and cooking meth with some Bunsen burners you stole. I guess this was their best idea to stop you. It isn’t fair to all of the law-abiding allergy sufferers out there, but there isn’t a thing we can do about it. I will be sure to update you as soon as there are any changes made to the pseudoephedrine purchase limits.





What Are the Pseudoephedrine Purchase Limits and Why Do They Exist?

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