State Legislatures Considering Prescriptions for Cold Medicine to Fight Meth Problem

March 29th, 2011

With a number of states facing problems with methamphetamines, bills are being drafted and proposed in legislatures across the country to help fight the problem. One of the many proposed ideas is to require a Doctor’s prescription for popular drugs such as Sudafed.

Many of these drugs contain pseudoephedrine, the crucial element in creating methamphetamines.  Many of the police’s efforts to keep the ingredient out of the hands of meth labs have been said to failed. Nearly 2,100 meth labs have been seized last year in the state of Tennessee alone, a 45% increase compared to 2009. Meth labs have been springing up in a number of other states as well.

Such an increase in meth labs in the Midwest and South comes five years after Congress made a series of restrictions that originally seemed to halt production. Amongst the measures included a requirement of pharmacies to keep drugs containing pseudoephedrine behind the sales counters, making both daily and monthly limits on the number of how much of these drugs can be bought, and requiring a log of sales.

However, methamphetamine production continued due to the people who bought less than the legal limit and used false identification.

Oregon and Mississippi already require prescriptions to get a hold of such drugs, and similar legislation is under discussion in Tennessee, Alabama, Missouri, Nevada, and Oklahoma. However, such legislation is met with heavy resistance by pharmaceutical companies, who claim unfairly alienates normal cold and allergy sufferers, those who follow the law. They alternatively propose bills that would strengthen police monitoring during pseudoephedrine sales.

The pharmaceutical companies’ main argument is that normal, law-abiding citizens should not have to pay fines for a doctor’s visit for a mere common cold. This argument has resonated with many states, as similar measures to restrict pseudoephedrine sales has failed in Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky and West Virginia.

The State Legislatures counter that many allergy and cold treatments that do not contain pseudoephedrine currently exist, and obviously would not be affected by prescription-only laws. They argue that in order to stop meth labs, they will need to cut accessibility to its main ingredient.

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