METHAMPHETAMINE: Common Cold Remedy Sales Restricted
The sale of over-the-counter cold remedies, which contain two drugs (ephedrine and pseudoephedrine) that can be chemically processed into the illegal stimulant methamphetamine, is being restricted in cities across California, where much of the nation's supply of "meth" is produced. The Wall Street Journal reports that a hodgepodge of confusing and conflicting legislation has sprung up in the state to regulate the number of pills like Dimetapp, Sudafed and Contac that can be sold to an individual over a given amount of time. For example, Chino, CA, limits customers to "one package of more than 24 pills or two packages of 24 pills or less a day." However, Chino is located in San Bernardino County, which allows "three packages or 100 pills a day" per person. The federal Comprehensive Methamphetamine Control Act of 1996 requires retailers to "report to the Drug Enforcement Agency bulk sales of products that contain the chemicals if they believe they will be used to synthesize meth," and "requires drugmakers to put products containing the chemicals in 'blister packs,' which encase pills individually and hamper attempts to gather large quantities." The California Legislature is considering a bill that would impose uniform restrictions. Kansas, Arizona and Minnesota are planning similar measures.
Drugmakers and retailers have in some cases resisted the attempts to restrict cold medicine sales. A spokesperson for American Home Products' Whitehall-Robbins unit, the maker of Dristan, said, "The regulations should be aimed at illicit manufacturers and not legitimate consumers or legitimate retail outlets." The Journal reports that the companies "are in a bind: If they endorse legislation restricting sales of cold remedies, they tacitly acknowledge that their products contribute to meth production. ... But if they oppose restrictions, they are open to accusations of profiting from illegal drugs as well as to the fury of politicians."
The Journal lists common over-the-counter cold and sinus medicines that contain pheynylpropanolmine or pseudoephedrine, which can be used to make amphetamine or methamphetamine, respectively: Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold, Contac 12 Hour Cold, Dimetapp Cold & Allergy, Triaminic Syrup, Actifed, Advil Cold & Sinus, Dristan Sinus, PediaCare Infants' Drops, Sudafed, Triaminic Infant Oral Decongestant Drops and Tylenol Cold (Harrington, 8/25).