WHEELING, W.Va. — Research done by a West Liberty University economics professor projects the cost of a bill to make cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine a prescription-only drug will be steep.
Professor Serkan Catma performed the study on the projected costs for such a policy change. The study was funded by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, an arm of the pharmaceutical industry heavily opposed to the legislation.
“There will be almost 79,000 additional doctor visits in West Virginia annually,” said Catma during an interview on “MetroNews Talkline” this week. “The draft cost to average households in West Virginia will be about $3.7 million.”
Catma said his research takes into account not only the cost of a doctor visit to obtain the prescription, but the cost of missing days of work and lost productivity.
“If we look at the cost over a 10-year period, the prescription requirement would cost a total of $247 million, of which $146 million will be a cost to the state,” he said.
Catma said the figures account for adjustments consumers will make in switching to alternative, over-the-counter medicine. He said part of the figure also represents lost sales tax revenue to the state.
Supporters of the prescription policy say those figures are easily offset by savings realized by the state to clean up meth labs and treat those addicted to the drugs. Catma said his research didn’t explore those costs and he doesn’t believe there is enough data to make an accurate prediction.
“We’re not here to pass judgment or provide a policy prescription. We’re going to leave that up to the policy makers,” Catma said. “We only wanted to contribute to the debate the figures of how much it’s going to cost if the bill is passed.”
The prescription-only bill has been passed by the Senate and the House of Delegates is expected to take up the measure soon.
Catma did the research on his own and not on behalf of West Liberty.