Cold And Allergy Meds Could Soon Require Prescription
By Mark Bellinger
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – State lawmakers are considering legislation that would require prescriptions for allergy and cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine. That's the chemical used to make methamphetamine, and Tennessee continues to be one of the top states in the country for math lab seizures.
Lawmakers heard from police and drug companies on Wednesday. The TBI wants the prescription requirement and there is a bill that does just that, but other legislation called a hybrid bill is being drafted as a compromise.
Right now, to buy cold medicine in Tennessee, you need to show identification and sign your name. That information goes into a database to track how much of the drug you've been buying.
Those requirements worked for a while, but meth makers have gotten around the rules by using or even paying other people to buy medicines containing pseudoephedrine for them. The compromise legislation may include a prescription requirement, but only after you've used a certain amount of the drug.
"The hybrid bill does, in fact, say if it's contraindicated, then you get a prescription," said Representative Tony Shipley, a Republican from Kingsport. "It also says you'll be restricted to so many grams per month, which I think is fair. Those grams were designed around the manufacturers recommended dosing."
The TBI insists the right move is to require the prescriptions. "We're still drowning in the scourge of methamphetamine," said TBI Director Mark Gwyn. The TBI says prescription requirements have made an impact in other states like Oregon and Mississippi.
The group lobbying lawmakers on behalf of the drug companies released a poll on Wednesday. That poll shows 56% of Tennesseans oppose requiring prescriptions for medications containing pseudoephedrine.
"We're concerned about the cost that they would incur having to go to the doctor's office, take time off from work, pay a co-pay at the doctor, pay a co-pay at the pharmacist," said Carlos Gutierrez, a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry.
The TBI says the computer-based system used by pharmacies to track who is buying these drugs has not helped. They say the number of meth lab busts have, for the most part, remained unchanged.
Last year there were more than 1,800 of them in Tennessee.
Wednesday, June 19 2013 2:24 PM EDT2013-06-19 18:24:42 GMT
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