An open letter to the CEO of Target

Dear Mr. Target CEO,

First I would like to thank you for being a regular reader of my blog. Your support is greatly appreciated by all of me over here. That said however I need to talk with you about an incident that happened to me in one of your Chicago-area stores last week.

Given that spring is upon us, it should come as no surprise that season allergies have also returned to spread their malevolent brand of evil throughout the sinuses and nasal passages of the populace. As you are probably aware, each year representatives of the various tree, grass, and shrub factions meet at the headquarters of the Legion of Doom* where they plan every detail of how they will make my life a living heck for the first three months of spring.

Mercifully, however, many stores (such as your fine institutions) carry a secret weapon to fight against the evil-doers: Claritin-D. A magical invention, these pills allow me to function like a normal part of humanity rather than becoming a whiny, cantankerous lout who would drive the GF to the edge of violence. Even better, your stores now offer generic versions of the drug, allowing me to avoid being fleeced by Schering-Plough like I was when Claritin was a perscription-only drug. However, because my allergies have recently become more tenacious, I require the version that includes the pseudoephedrine decongestant as well as the antihistamine. It's sad, but true, the loratadine alone doesn't cut it anymore.

This said, I want to let you know that I am aware that pseudoephedrine is used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. I am also aware that 96% of America must be addicted to meth, therefore requiring that anything containing pseudoephedrine be kept behind the counter and dispenced only by pharmacists. Obviously, the slavering masses of meth addicts can only be kept at bay by the calm, reasoned demeanor of a person in a white lab coat. The logic is perfectly clear why this is necessary, given that I am (obviously) unknowingly addicted to meth, my access to it must be limited as much as possible.

However, last week when I took the little "Take me to the counter and BEG for your meth fix you freak" voucher-card for a 10-pack of the Target-brand version up to the pharmacist. Handing over the voucher I asked for three boxes, figuring that would be enough to get me through the next couple weeks but not so much to have the DEA tackling me in the parking lot. The pharmacist informed me that she "could only sell me one box at a time". At that point, I noticed that there were three boxes of the OTC version of the drug behind the counter: a 10-pack and 20-pack of the brand name version, and the 10-pack Target version that I was trying to buy. The conversation between the pharmacist and me quickly went south from there:

P: "I'm sorry sir, but I can only sell you one box at a time."

GB: "But you *could* sell me the 20-pack box of the brand name stuff, right?"

P: "Yes sir."

GB: "So if I buy 20 of the brand-name pills, I'm a normal and upstanding member of society. But if I buy 20 of the generic, I'm going to rush off and turn them into meth in order to satiate the burning fire coursing through my veins, is that right?"

P: "..."

GB: "Listen, I'm not trying to be difficult here, but can you honestly tell me it makes sense to you that you can sell me 20 of the Claritin pills but you can only sell me 10 of the generic?"

P: "Sir, I can only sell you one box at a time."

At that point I left her alone. She was a nice enough young woman and obviously lacked the rapier wit and sense of sarcasm posessed by my other readers in her profession. She would only think I was being mean or crazy, which meant it was in my best interest to ease off, considering she probably had a button under the counter that would summon the DEA with a secret "Hey, there's an agitated drug addict over here you can bite!" signal that only their dogs can hear.

So now I come to you Mr. Target CEO, to discuss this ridiculous "policy" of yours. I understand the need to keep meth out of the hands of addicted people everywhere, but come on - rescrictions based on the number of *boxes*? Seriously, I had no idea people used the containers the pills came in to make the drugs, silly old me I thought they actually used what was *inside* the boxes! Foolish me, all that meth I haven't done must've cooked my brain.

Seriously, how about a restriction based on the actual *amount* of the drug being purchased instead? Especially since the only people allowed to dispense the stuff are professional pill-counters. I'm guessing it would be pretty easy for them to count to 20, then stop.

Particularly since boxes only come in 10- or 20-packs.

Thanks for your time,

* Register today for your private evil-doing event! Call 1-800-KAL-EL-SUX for
availability today! Neo-cons, don't forget to ask for your 15% discount!


J.Po said…
HA!! HA HA HA!! Idiocracy sux.
Grafs said…
Does it surprise you that I'm ringing in on this? :P

I don't know about your state, but MY ridiculous state FORCES retailers to stock these meds behind the counter. Moreover, they FORCE us pharmacists to log each sale with the customer's name! As far as the 1 or 2 boxes thing is concerned, I have no clue. Suffice it to say we are only allowed to dispense so many milligrams of psuedoephedrine a week to allergy sufferers because of a few and growing *&%$ loser meth addicts out there. Many manufacturers are now switching to phenylephrine, which is in the same class of drugs. That can still be purchased OTC because it can't be used for meth cooking.

As a side note, I am SICK and TIRED of doctorate-trained pharmacists having to be crack DEA agents. I hope your allergies feel better soon.
towwas said…
Innnnteresting, innnnnteresting, said the health writer, calculatingly.
grrrbear said…
J.Po - In my opinion, your opinion is exactly right.

Grafs - I fully expected you to chime in. It does suck that you guys and gals need to be pseudo DEA agents on the "front lines" of the drug war like this. It must be even more frustrating that unlike the DEA dogs, you don't even get the pleasure of being able to bite the addicts.
grrrbear said…
TOWWAS, if you use me for a story I'll expect to be cited as an "unnamed medical stupidity expert".
Sophist said…
Hey Grrrbear, does the Target loratidine work as well as brand name? Because I bought the Costco one (90 pills for $18!!!!!) thinking it was a real deal, but I don't think they work as well as the brand name Claritin for some reason. A pharmaceutical sciences pal of mine says that their manufacturing procedures are probably different. If you vouch for the Target brand I"ll have to try that because the Costco stuff ain't doing me any good and I'm sneezy!
Sophist said…
Holy cow, the price for generic claritin went down to $11.69 for 300 tablets. That's INSANE! They also sell the brand name stuff, about $30 for 60 pills.
grrrbear said…
Sophist - I'm sure Grafs can speak more eloquently on this, but I believe that the FDA requires generics to be identical to the brand-names with respect to their chemical structure and performance.

I've never noticed any difference between any of the generics I've used (Target or Walgreens) and the real deal though.
J.Po said…
Okay, comment re: generic vs. brand. I have a big issue with this and my needs for thyroid hormone replacement. I have NEVER been able to get my levels right with generic synthroid (using the same dosage that works for me in brand). Thyroid hormone replacement provide3s a very sensitive test of the brand/generic divide since doctors monitor necessary dosage of drug (individual needs vary A LOT) by testing blood levels of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone and free thyroid hormone. If I take a certain dose of Synthroid brand (in particular, 175ng Tu/Thurs and 200ng M/W/F/Sa/Su), my levels are right on the money. If I do this same routine with generic, I am sluggish and I gain weight and things are off off off. Turns out endocrinologists have found that dosages with generic are not as well regulated as brand and the sources (labs and mechanisms of production) can vary quite a bit. What drives me absolutely bonkers is that my insurance co. makes me pay a hefty copay because there is a generic alternative ... even though I can NEVER GET TO A LEVEL OF PROPER FUNCTIONING with generic. Believe me, I tried for years. It just don't work, yo.

I am now done with my rant.
Spice said…
I tried generic ibuprofen once, and I noticed a heck of a difference from Advil, so I'm with Po.

I get generic loratidine from my HMO (yep, they still let me get it from them for the bargain price of $5!), and I haven't noticed any difference from Claritin. But then, the real comparison there is to Allegra/Zyrtec, which are both oh-so-much better.