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Pseudoephedrine Products still OTC… for now


From Missouri News Horizon:

As promised, House leadership gave Rep. Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, a forum for discussion on his bill that would make medicines containing pseudoephedrine available by prescription only. The ingredient is a key precursor in the manufacture of methamphetamine. House leadership, including House Speaker Steven Tilley, R-Perryville, are known to not be fans of the bill, which they say will place a burden on consumers.

The bill is also the target of a campaign by a pharmaceutical industry group that has taken out advertising time on radio stations across the state to urge consumers to call their elected representatives to fight the legislation.

Supporters of the bill, including Rep. Dave Hinson, R-St. Clair, sought to soften the legislation by making a change to read that only the hard tablet form of the drug would be available by prescription only. The medicine would still be available in its liquid or gel form. Hinson, a former firefighter and paramedic said he had responded to hundreds of fire calls involving meth labs and kitchens and had never seen the liquid or gel form of pseudoephedrine used in the manufacture of meth.

However, Rep. David Sater, a pharmacist, said the chemical make up of the medicines are the same and the liquid and gel forms would only have to be dried to become an ingredient in meth.

Rep. Stanley Cox of Sedalia said he sympathized with the intent of the bill, but he likened it to a push to restrict the sale of baking soda a few years ago, because baking soda is used in the manufacture of crack cocaine.

“These are wrong-headed ideas to solve serious problems,” said Cox. “This is the wrong way to go.”

Cox urged his colleagues to defeat the bill and allow the current system of tracking psuedoephedrine sales by computer in real time. The system is designed to stop one person from going to pharmacy after pharmacy buying enough medicines containing pseudoephedrine to make methamphetamine. Cox stressed the system had only been in place since last December.

“That system won’t work,” Schatz said. “It has not worked in states where it has been enacted and it won’t work here.”

Schatz said meth makers are getting around the system by sending several different people to buy the medicines in a scheme known as “smurfing.”

With opposition mounting on the floor, House Majority Floor Leader, Rep. Tim Jones, R-Eureka, pulled the plug on the bill, shutting down debate after one hour, much to the chagrin of Schatz, a legislative rookie, who was later seen in animated conversation with the floor leader.


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