Target’s Answer to National Meth Abuse Problem

Discussion
Apr 19, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Target has said that over the next two to three months it will pull all over-the-counter (OTC) remedies containing pseudoephedrine from its store shelves and move them behind
the pharmacy counter. Stores without pharmacies, approximately 300 in number, will discontinue selling these products.


The company’s move was in response to the growing alarm across the country in the rise in methamphetamine use. Pseudoephedrine, contained in many popular cold and allergy medications,
is used to make the illegal drug.


Target’s decision to restrict the sale of products containing pseudoephedrine appears to be a means to have a single company policy that responds to regulations that vary by
state.


Target spokesperson, Carolyn Brookter, told The Associated Press that the company expects to lose sales because of its new policy.


Hy-Vee initiated a similar program in its stores last year when it took popular cold products containing pseudoephedrine and placed them behind pharmacy and service counters.
To track purchases of products, customers were asked to supply their names when buying the items. Sales fell 20 percent to 30 percent in the process.


“It added a level of accountability for the customer,” Hy-Vee spokeswoman Ruth Comer told the AP. “They had to actually talk to somebody face-to-face and give a name.”


Senators from Target’s home state of Minnesota, Norm Coleman and Mark Dayton, have co-sponsored federal legislation that would require consumers to speak with a pharmacy worker
and supply ID before being able to buy medicines with pseudoephedrine.


Moderator’s Comment: What are your thoughts on Target’s decision to move products containing pseudoephedrine to behind the counter? What will its impact
be on Target? Will other retailers follow Target’s lead? Is federal legislation needed to regulate the sale of these types of products or is this something best left up to individual
states?


Michael Campion, Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner told The Associated Press that meth producers have gone shopping in other states for products
with pseudoephedrine when they find sales restricted in their own backyard.

George Anderson – Moderator

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15 Comments on "Target’s Answer to National Meth Abuse Problem"


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James Tenser
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

Target is responding to the particular purchase of pseudoephedrine as a raw material for the manufacture of bathtub amphetamine. I agree that simply limiting purchase quantity at the point of sale would accomplish this just as well. Manufacturers can also do their part by selling the pills only in those inconvenient blister packs and in quantities of less than 50 at a time.

If Target is experiencing a theft problem with these items, that’s another story entirely. In that case, the behind-the-counter merchandising makes sense, although it’s another sad instance of the bad actions of a very few impairing the customer experience of the many.

jeff patton
Guest
jeff patton
15 years 10 months ago

I think this is being over analyzed. If you need cold medicine, you can still buy it whether at Target or at another retailer. Target has a proven track record of supporting the community and numerous charitable causes. If they want to help curtail meth use in this country, they should have our support.

It is easy to stand on the sideline and do nothing but much tougher to take a stand.

Mark Burr
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

This all does seem quite reactionary and extreme. It does sound a bit like their reaction to the Salvation Army, as mentioned. Target is a great retailer, albeit a bit odd sometimes.

Every retailer is allowed their quirks, I suppose. However, this one sounds more like a lack of confidence in their accountabilities rather than simply doing the right thing. Nevertheless, I reserve the right to be wrong.

Charlie Moro
Guest
Charlie Moro
15 years 10 months ago

I think it is great that companies like Target and Hy-Vee see a responsibility to take the lead in protecting people from themselves, but at the end of the day, the companies that manufacture these items need to absorb the costs of distribution and protection of the public at large. It seems that we may miss the point of where the responsibility lies so that companies should not be able to put the onus of responsibility in the last place it should be. If the government needs to regulate as with other drugs, then it should do it across the board.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

I have to believe that Target became aware of some kind of “minor” liability case to precipitate this move (one that would portend of major action later) either at Target or another retailer. Otherwise, they are going to a complete extreme by restricting/taking these products off of the market.

David Livingston
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

Target is doing what will most likely become law anyway. I don’t see this having any significant impact on Target since we are only talking about one product that most people don’t have to buy with any regularity.

In Canada, acetaminophen with codeine is available over the counter, however you must ask the pharmacist. As far as I know, all pharmacies limit customers to two bottles. At Wal-Mart, you must sign for them and disclose the type of pain you are treating. Since I only buy them once a year or so, taking an extra minute at the pharmacy is not an inconvenience. Plus, I can pay for it at the pharmacy and don’t have to wait in line at the checkout.

Len Lewis
Guest
Len Lewis
15 years 10 months ago

Kudos to Target and Hy-Vee for doing something about this massive problem while our politicians on both sides of the aisle sit on their hands.

However, Target’s discontinuing the items in stores without pharmacies seems a bit extreme. They might simply try limiting sales.

Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
15 years 10 months ago

It’s Sudafed. It’s being abused by one in ten million! Hey, just program the registers to deny the sale of more than two retail (24 count) packages at once. Boy, can we find ways to overreact to everything, and Target seems to lead the pack – remember the Salvation Army! I guess unconditional surrender is part of Target’s cultural heritage.

Jason Brasher
Guest
Jason Brasher
15 years 10 months ago

Maybe David is on to something. Putting more medical decisions closer to the customer may yield benefits for the health care system by way of reduced costs and increased ownership for treatment by the patient. There may even be room for including a system for tort reform in a consumerized medical system where patients are given more responsibility for treatment options armed with the best information available.

Implementing this sort of policy could get complicated, given recent stories of pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions from physicians on grounds other than medical treatment. When combined with complications arising from the many medications and supplements both behind and in front of the pharmacy counter, it appears that this is an opportunity for a much larger debate on reforming how and why medications get to consumers.

Ben Ball
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

I have to go with sales_pro on this one. Whatever happened to prosecuting criminals who make meth and leaving retailers and consumers to the peaceful pursuit of legal medications? Limiting purchase quantities is inherently reasonable and doable instead, and would be just as crippling to those seeking the OTC meds for less legal pursuits.

Jim Leichenko
Guest
Jim Leichenko
15 years 10 months ago

I don’t agree with removing a legal product from your store shelves because a tiny minority abuses it. It makes headlines but ultimately it forces loyal customers to go to another store to buy the product. And when they do, they’ll start buying other products that they would normally have purchased from you.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

Carol may well be onto the real truth. Fear of prosecution – or persecution. Frankly, it does seem as if the majority are being persecuted for the sake of saving the minority from themselves. And if they are that determined, they will find a way to make their meths no matter what Target has to say about it. Yet again it makes me wonder why store owners and managers think they have the right to regulate what legitimate customers want to buy.

Shirl Whiteman
Guest
Shirl Whiteman
15 years 10 months ago

I, too, am siding with sales_pro. Taking all products off the market that contain pseudoephedrine comes out to some 15 or so very popular cold medicines disappearing. Since it is the purest form of Sudafed most labs are looking for I feel that, if forced, stores could put these behind the counter. As an old chain drug employee, we knew when a lab had come to the neighborhood. Whole sweeps of Sudafed would disappear during the night shift. I never saw a sweep of any other product that was not a pure form. It takes too much time to separate out the drug to use. We had register controls that limited sales of items to 3 per customer or less than 100 at a time. Again, it’s the criminal element we are dealing with here, not the average consumer. Why should they have to go without?

Grant Anderson
Guest
Grant Anderson
15 years 10 months ago

In response to Bernice, store owners are allowed to limit what people can buy in their stores. The public then has the right to shop other stores if the inconvenience outweighs the benefits to the community, their friends, or their children. I believe Wal-Mart just came out with a similar policy in the last week that they too will be keeping these products behind the counter. Unfortunately, we are a money-driven society so most decisions are based upon that as much as doing the right thing.

z w
Guest
z w
15 years 10 months ago

I have bronchitis and went in to buy 4 DIFFERENT medications at Wal-Mart today. Not all of the meds contained psuedophedrine, BUT because one of the packages was marked “Robitussin” I wasn’t allowed to buy it. I argued with the clerk for some time trying to explain that this was a cough suppressant ONLY and did NOT contain psuedophedrine. It was clear from the package! Or wasn’t it clear enough by looking at my red, runny nose and listening to my hacking cough? Why does everyone need to be punished because of the stupidity of a few (that includes legislators).

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