Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Drug makers lobby successfully against bills that would make meth ingredient prescription-only

Drug manufacturers have mounted a so-far successful effort to keep states from making pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient in methamphetamine, available only by prescription. "Prescription-only bills were defeated or failed to make it to a vote this month in Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky and West Virginia after heavy lobbying by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a trade group representing makers of over-the-counter drugs," Abby Goodnough of The New York Times reports. "Similar bills are still alive in Alabama, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, Tennessee and several other states."

The bills would force consumers to obtain a prescription for drugs such as Sudafed, which contain pseudoephedrine. Some bills would apply to two similar decongestants. Police say efforts to keep the drugs out of the hands of meth cooks have failed, Goodnough writes, quoting Thomas Farmer, director of the Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force, who is pushing for a prescription-only law along with most other law enforcement officials in the state: "It’s a no-brainer. This has got to be the next step." Meth-lab counts have risen sharply in some states as makers move to simpler "shake and bake" processes using 2-liter bottles.

The drug companies and retailers, often backed by major advertising campaigns, "say the measures would place an undue burden on cold and allergy sufferers," Goodnough writes. "They are promoting other bills that would help the police monitor pseudoephedrine sales with interstate electronic tracking." Joy Krieger, executive director of the St. Louis chapter of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, which is fighting a prescription-only bill in Missouri said, "we can't change lives just to stop these weirdo people." (Read more)
For previous Rural Blog coverage of electronic tracking click here.

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