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Nanny State

Written By: - Date published: 2:41 pm, October 8th, 2009 - 58 comments
Categories: health - Tags:

Under new laws proposed by John Key we’re going to need a prescription to get any cold medicine with pseudoephedrine in it.

Anyone who has found themselves coming down with a flu or cold as they run up to an important deadline will tell you there’s nothing like pseudoephedrine to get you across the line.

And now they want to make me go to the doctor to get it? That might be okay for old “rich prick” Key (who probably still gets house-calls!) but down here in the middle class it can take a week to get an appointment with your GP and if you’re working class then you’re going to be bloody lucky to have $50 spare just to stop a cold.

Even with Jim “no-fun” Anderton onboard Labour never went this far. This is nanny state bullshit at it finest.

58 comments on “Nanny State ”

  1. Herman Poole 1

    Agreed, this pisses me off. I don’t believe the cost/benefit of this is gonna stack up.

  2. Herman Poole 2

    And it does bother me so much personally. It is as an employer in a low wage sector, my staff are not going to get their problems seen to as often and I think it will mean more of them getting sick, or coming to work less than 100%.

    • IrishBill 2.1

      I disagree with the productivity argument as I don’t think pseudoephedrine stops you getting sick (or spreading it to other workmates) but I do know I’ve relied on it once or twice to get through stuff I’ve absolutely needed to get done when I’ve been ill. I always make sure I take a bit of time off afterwards though.

      I also don’t believe it will work to curtail the “P” industry. I’ve been told only 10% of containers get checked and I understand most of the bulk (read: gang related) product is shipped in from overseas.

      We all know the prohibition model doesn’t work and this is strictly a prohibition tactic.

      • Herman Poole 2.1.1

        Do the symptons including coughing and sneezing increase the likelihood of spreading?

        They certainly affect the ability of people in retail or customer service to do their job.

        • Draco T Bastard

          People with a cold shouldn’t be going to work if they’re sick especially in retail or any other business where they’re fronting to a lot of people during the day.

  3. Blue 3

    I gave up even trying to get pseudoephedrine-based products a year ago. Couldn’t face going into a pharmacy and being treated like a drug-seeking criminal every time I got a cold.

    Facing down twenty questions from a pharmacist, being asked for ID and having my appearance and behaviour closely scrutinised for any sign of anything suspicious was too much to handle when I felt like crap anyway.

    If the gangs really do get much of their precursors from over-the-counter sales then I don’t know how they do it.

    • TightyRighty 3.1

      and when you look all bleary eyed and pale and greasy from lack of sleep because you’ve been up all night hacking away, they really put you through the wringer. I understand the need for control, but even the present status quo is ridiculous. and I have to agree for once with the standard, a prescription is a step to far. nanny-statish maybe not, but certainly overkill. and it’s not like their trying to regulate everyones shower pressure.

    • felix 3.2

      Blue, they don’t. This will have zero impact on meth production.

      And TR, no-one ever tried to regulate your shower pressure. You’re just a sucker if you bought that line of pr.

      • Tigger 3.2.1

        At least the idea of regulating water pressure has a practical goal in mind – lowered water consumption. Less water coming through shower head = less water used. That’s a direct, provable connection.

        They cannot show how this ban will reduce drug use. It’s spin and PR. Lame even by Key’s standards.

      • mickysavage 3.2.2

        They did try to regulate our choice of lightbulb. We could choose ecofriendly long lasting low power bulbs or the initially cheap but long term expensive, inefficient high powered jobs.

        I wish Labour stuck to its guns and kept the ban. Our planet does need some leadership from our politicians.

    • Ms X 3.3

      I agree, gave up pharmacy meds a long time ago. (you think that interrogation’s bad – try buying an anti-fungal cream!) Now strictly on natural products for colds, viruses etc, and very effective too. However, the image of P makers queuing meekly for their supply is very entertaining. Thanks for that.

  4. chris 4

    I’m going to wear my conspiracy hat and say this is actually a cunning strategy to increase act’s vote at the next election, thus giving them more mandate to “finish the experiment”

  5. Bill 5

    So you want the state to leave you alone to suck on the teat of big pharma?

    • Quoth the Raven 5.1

      Yes, Bill. This just pushes up the price for everyone, increases the strain on the healthcare system and increases the cost of it too.

      • Bill 5.1.1


        Who the fuck wants to ‘soldier on’?

        You’re not well?

        Be not well!!!!

        These medications that are designed to make you keep on doing what you do in spite of your health…..?

        There is no price if the medication is refused; if the requisite rest and recovery is allowed for ;if the wage/ sick leave provisions are present.

        This shit is NOT a cure. It’s a drug induced feeling of less ill feeling in the short term to keep you going, keep you productive. But as IB points out, the off days come nevertheless.

        • Quoth the Raven

          Bill – I’ve never once used these drugs for a cold. I hardly ever get colds. But if people wish to use them and can attest to their efficacy in relieving their symptoms then they should be able to without having to pay another $40-50 for a GP visit which they probably wouldn’t be able to get in time anyway and which just needlessly takes up the time of our Doctors.

  6. Sean 6

    Don’t see the point in this particular part of the policy from National. As Blue says, how much of the stuff do gangs get from over the counter? 5%-10% maximum I would have thought. GP’s around the country will be smiling, but not many others! Doesn’t really affect me as I tend to try and get over a cold without taking any medicine.

    • But it is not the practical effect but the ability to claim that he is doing something that is driving Key. What has logic and the real world got to do with it?

  7. lprent 7

    This is a government that is strong on meaningless gestures, and an almost complete lack of substance

    Yet another example

    • mike 7.1

      Lack of substance is exactly what they are after in this case IP.

      “Meaningless gestures” on the other hand was labours forte – they would have called for a series of ‘inquiries’ into pseudoephedrine before doing nothing as usual and brushing it up under the carpet…

      • gobsmacked 7.1.1

        So do you support this ban or not, Mike?

        • mike

          Yes I do – the 20% of people who don’t respond to its legal replacement will need a prescription but that’s a small price to pay for another tool to fight the P epidemic.

          There are a lot of heroes posting here saying pseudoephedrine is a necessary drug to get them through work while ill – firstly what are sick days for? – I thought you guys were all for workers rights and secondly you idiots are infecting everybody else in your workplace.

          • Pete

            Hi mike,

            I’m one of the idiots.

            I had never taken pseudoephedrine until recently when I had to deliver a government mandate (ie a new series of services for clients of the Ministry I used to work for) in a week and a half, and in the same week interview for a new job because me and my expertise were being restructured out of the picture.

            I don’t recall my colleagues getting sick, as I make sure I look after myself (clean hands, use tissues etc), but I can understand if that’s too hard for some.

            Anyway, without the help provided by the pseudoephedrine I may not have the job I am in today, and the services I helped developed would not have been delivered on time. Though it was the first time I had resorted to using it, I am pleased I did. And having to wait to see a GP and pay for the privilege of seeing them to sign a prescription (including the time off required – or more to pay to go to an after hours joint) was a luxury I didn’t have. There’s more to it than what you see on face-value, so your comments don’t help – and I’d say that this is certainly in the same league as any ‘nanny-state’ proposal that was so decried in the last couple of years, though without the proven effect the government are seeking. Cross your fingers and hope is not a good way to go IMHO.

  8. tsmithfield 8

    Nothing that has been done so far has had any effect on the P problem.

    Also, this is not just a one shot wonder. It is included in a package of measures to deal with the problem. I guess time will tell whether the program is effective. However, it is good to see the problem is being taken seriously whereas up until now it seems to have been swept under the carpet.

    The perscription side of things should not be too much of an issue. I quite often get a perscription for routine medication without having to go to the doctor. Costs me $5.00.
    Alternatively, next time I visit the doctor, I will arrange for a standing perscription I can use if I get sick.

  9. Luke H 9

    Well knock me over with a feather and call me a socialist. I never thought I’d see a post on The Standard that I agreed with almost-wholeheartedly.

    Good work guys.

  10. Chris 10

    I’m fucken pissed off with this proposal. I needed pseudoephedrine a couple of months ago as I had an important meeting that I could not duck out of.

    The fucken chemist treated me, a professional white middle class male as a criminal and sold me some shit that didn’t even **touch** the cold. Result – I went through an entire box of tissues in the meeting blowing my nose – it really was bloody awful.

    Now Key is saying that I have to get a prescription for it?? Fuck that. He probably has a container full being shipped in for him right now so **he** doesn’t have to be like us.

    yes, P is a big problem but it sure ain’t as big as a problem as thousands of people and myself need pseudophedrine to get to work so we can pay John Key, Bill English, Tony Ryall and Gerry Brownlee’s wages.

    • mike 10.1

      sounds like pseudoephedrine is the least of your problems

    • I actually agree with Chris.

      I own a SME, I have not had a sick day off in 16 years (this is what it does to you) and each year for the past few years I have used pseudoephedrine once a year to get through. My local chemist who I know puts no roadblocks in the way but it is very helpful if you want to keep working.

      “P” is a scourge and if I could achieve anything I would get it banned. I know that prohibition never seems to work but P is such an insidious destructive drug that it demands special treatment.

      But banning will not work. There is nothing in Key’s speech about drug education and if they want to do something then resources need to be made available for this, especially for schools.

      Perhaps they could cancel King’s funding increase and use this for education of the dangers of P for all secondary school pupils.

  11. Daveo 12

    If you want a good chuckle go have a read of the comments on Farrar’s thread:

    The attack dogs have turned on their master.

    • George.com 12.1

      Roftl, entertaining stuff. I enjoyed this comment

      “Yeah I can just imagine the difference in approach if it were Labour championing this move. Instead, all we get is apologist rubbish interspersed with sensationalist reports of P damage. Shame on the author.”

      I’m off to get some popcorn & a coffee before settling in to read the full list of comments.

      *note to self, watch out for swinging doors*

  12. Lindsey 13

    And they turned down the offer of the Aussie system which links chemists with the police, so every time someone buys psuedoephedrine it goes into the system so you can spot multiple purchasers very quickly.
    I have the Mast Cell allergies and about once a year I need two days of Actifed. Nothing else stops my nose running like a tap and my head feeling like it is two sizes too big for my skull.
    I do not mind producing ID at the Chemist.
    I will not use the term “Nanny State” as it is anti women, but NACT goes on about keping government out of our lives, I would like to keep the NACT government out of my nose!

  13. Adam Jarvis 14

    Clearly the ‘war on drugs’ trumps nanny state for Key.

    Don’t see this helping reduce the number of P users at all.

  14. Rob A 15

    I’m going to come clean here and say that the last 2 elections I’ve voted National.

    I hope that gives some perspective when I say that this pisses me off no end. This is honestly one of the most stupid and pointless things I’ve ever seen from a NZ government. It is merely a case of the Gov wanting to be seen to be doing something rather than actually doing it, something this site has been accusing Key of doing all year and something I am now believing.

    I guess most MPs have a doctor on call because I, my family and everybody I know typically have to wait 2-3 days to get in to a GP (not even mentioning the pointless cost this adds). That these National idiots dont know that is showing they have completely lost touch with we outside their bubble

  15. rocky 16

    As much as I agree with your point Zetetic, I really hate the term “nanny-state”. I get that you’re using the term to show the irony, but still hate that all you will be achieving is to help reinforce “nanny-state” being used to attack any and all regulation, regardless of whether it is warranted in this scenario.

    • Tigger 16.1

      I also never liked the sexist undercurrent of the phrase. But the phrase isn’t going anywhere and I can see the logic in using it as a weapon – sort of like turning their guns on themselves. What is a nanny steat move anyway? Is this it? Or is this more of their bully state tactics?

      All that said this from Kiwiblog (where DPF is running around like a yappy dog, desperately defending this P move) is pretty funny – “And who do we thank for this? Why, the gentle folk of Noo Zeeland, who voted for Nanny McKey, that’s who.”

      Nanny McKey? I don’t think I can think of him any other way now…

  16. daredtodream 17

    “That might be okay for old “rich prick’ Key (who probably still gets house-calls!) but down here in the middle class it can take a week to get an appointment with your GP and if you’re working class then you’re going to be bloody lucky to have $50 spare just to stop a cold.”

    I don’t much agree with the policy but this statement is superficial BS considering that many \\”working class\\” or not so privileged people have access to GPs through the very low cost access scheme, which many PHOs and practices have signed up to. Under the scheme the practices and PHOs agree not to charge copayments above $16 for working age adults with many charging much less than that. Do some research.


    • IrishBill 17.1

      I’m in a PHO and while it is very cheap and the service is great for serious issues I wouldn’t get an appointment for at least a week for a head cold because there is a serious shortages of GPs where I live. That leaves the emergency doctor which was $90 a throw last time I had to go.

  17. sk 18

    The problem for John Key is that he appears incapable of developing a medium term policy strategy. So he needs these one off measures, to be seen to be doing something, irrespective as to whether there is any policy coherence or not.

    He was the same when he worked in the markets, and he appears to have carried this over to politics. The problem is that it does not work so well when it comes to governing . .. .

  18. Out of bed 19

    AS obesity is more of a problem then P in costs to society, can we now see the banning of unhealthy food in school tuck shops ?
    ….only saying

    • Good point, don’t hold your breath …

    • It seems to be the way of things that the BIG problems are ignored and the minor ones get attention out of all proportion to the problem. Take terrorism: None here in the NZ of any note, but we all have to submit to costly and inconvenient security when travelling by air. Meanwhile, thousands die of smoking-related cancers every year….and we don’t ban cigarettes because stupidity on that scale can’t be stopped by mere laws.

  19. BLiP 20

    This policy will have a nil impact on P production and use – it just another example of National Ltd appearing to be doing something. Sickening.

  20. Swampy 21

    No this is getting tough on crime.

    You don’t stop a cold with that stuff, anyhow. It just relieves the symptoms and there are plenty other ways of doing that.

    • BLiP 21.1

      Tough on crime?

      Its the opposite. This latest example of the “do nothing” National Ltd government actually creates more victims. How is making pensioners go to the doctor and then to the chemist because of a bunch of druggies might get some of their ingredients from the pharmacy tough on crime? What a stupid thing to say.

      If National Ltd, or any government for that matter, wanted to get tough on crime it would make all drugs legal and address the reasons why people use drugs. That would be the “market solution” because it would hit the crims right where it hurts, the bottom line.

      Remember Howard Scott’s definition of a criminal: a person with predatory instincts who has not sufficient capital to form a corporation.

    • Swampy: I’m betting this move will cause some P-seekers to steal or otherwise criminally obtain what they have until now been cunningly buying. We could well see drug-related crime go up…..not down. P users aren’t known for their good judgement or patience.

      • Tigger 21.2.1

        It’s okay Steve, that’s that whole plan, more criminals = more bodies for our private prisons…

  21. RedLogix 22

    So we get to pick a lane here.

    1. Do nothing and pay the cost of P as part of our collective lives.

    2. Do something and pay the cost of that action.

    There are no other choices.

    So all you collective genius’s, which lane do you want to pick? If Option 1. then how about being honest and just saying so.

    If Option 2. then what’s it going to be? And what price are you prepared to pay? (And why should the left refrain from yelling ‘nanny state’ if you do?)

    • felix 22.1

      You forgot about

      3. Make pseudoephedrine prescription-only and pay the cost of that action AND pay the cost of P as part of our collective lives anyway.

      You might as well include that on your list of options because that’s the one the govt seems to have chosen.

      • Craig Glen Eden 22.1.1

        I think there is another option, that would be to employ a lot more custom officers and search the containers properly.But hey National wouldn’t want to employ public servants because as we all know they are the real scourge on NZ society.

        While I want to see this evil (and it is a true evil) drug out of or country I dont believe that the purchase of cold remedies across the pharmacy counter is the main supply of the pseudoephedrine for P labs.

        Its just populist politicking again by Key if only there was enough celebrities in the world for him to shake hands with (24/7) we might all be spared this type of knee jerk reaction policy of the populist approach.

        • gitmo


          From what I understand more customs officers and stronger surveillance and enforcement is part of the plan – I also think this part of the plan will be more effective than moving pseudoephidrine from Pharmacy only to Rx medicine status

  22. gingercrush 23

    I can’t say I agree with this particular area of this new policy around P. Of course its the thing that gets the headlines. But the other areas are much more interesting and more important. For instance more placements for P addiction and a police taskforce are good things. Of course they don’t get the headlines.

  23. Last year, I had a rash on my leg that I picked up from one of the cats. I went to the doctor. $80 for the consult and $17 for a tiny tube of ointment. That was $97 for a rash I diagnosed myself and just needed to get the ointment.

    Key’s move on pseudo-ephedrine could be seen a perk for poor, downtrodden doctors. A needy group if ever there was one. Maybe it will slow down P, but I have a feeling it may also increase crime as some P-seekers will take by stealth or force what they can’t buy.

  24. aj 25

    There are interesting political outcomes possible here.
    For 99.9% of kiwi’s P is something that grabs headlines as users perform some very nasty things while spaced out. But that’s as close as they get to it.
    Meanwhile alcohol creates much more havoc on our roads streets and home in a week than P would in a whole year, but doesn’t get the banner headlines.
    With this move National certainly will get kudos from some quarters as a move against crime even if the outcomes suggested are completely disconnected with reality.
    And suddenly many kiwi’s are going to find the price of trying to get over a headcold has suddenly shot through the roof.
    First cell phones in cars, although ipods and GPS are ok. Now a doctors visit is required to get a medicant for the common cold….

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