Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Meds Being Restricted Due to Meth Fears

OTC Meds Being Restricted Due to Meth Fears
Reported by USA Today
USA Today on July 6, 2004.

Decongestant sales being curbed to halt meth trade

A growing number of states are enacting laws to restrict sales of over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines such as Sudafed in an effort to halt production of the highly addictive stimulant methamphetamine.

This year three states have passed laws limiting where or how much of the medication can be purchased. A fourth state, Illinois, has sent a similar bill to the governor to sign. That would make 11 states that have laws controlling the sale of the common medication, which contains pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in meth, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

"We've said all along if we want to control the meth problem, we have to control pseudoephedrine, and it's paying off for us," says Mark Woodward, spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.

In April Oklahoma enacted the most restrictive law, reclassifying many cold and allergy medicines as controlled substances that can be sold only in pharmacies. Customers don't need a prescription but must show a photo ID and sign for the medication. (Related story: Cold drugs becoming headache to
buy)

Woodward says police broke up 90 meth labs in March and only 29 in May.

The popularity of methamphetamine has spread across the country in the last 10 years, says Mike Heald, chief of the dangerous drug and chemical section of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

In 1996 the federal government passed a law restricting sales of cold and allergy medicines, but it has had "mixed success," DEA spokeswoman Rogene Waite says.

The amount purchased at one time is limited to products containing a total of 9 grams of pseudoephedrine, generally six to 12 boxes. Up to 1,000 pills are needed to produce 1 ounce of methamphetamine - enough for about three people.

But federal law does not limit where the drug can be sold or require registration.

Most major drugstore chains are limiting sales of the medication.

For more information: David Finn

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