Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Bill To Help Prevent Methamphetamine Production
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved by voice vote a bill (S 103) that would limit sales of over-the-counter medications that contain pseudoephedrine, an ingredient used in the manufacture of methamphetamine, the AP/Washington Times reports (AP/Washington Times, 7/29).
The legislation, sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Jim Talent (R-Mo.), would limit the sale of such medications to 7.5 grams, or about 250 30-milligram pills, per 30 days. Under the bill, customers would have to present a photo ID and sign a log to purchase such medications, and only pharmacists or pharmacy personnel could sell them (California Healthline, 6/29).
According to the AP/Times, the legislation "had been stalled in committee for several weeks over concerns" about the potential effect on similar state laws (AP/Washington Times, 7/29).
The committee passed the bill after the approval of several amendments. One of the amendments, sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), eliminated language in the original bill that would have allowed the legislation to supersede state laws. Under the amendment, states and localities could enact stricter limits on sales of medications that contain pseudoephedrine than the federal bill would implement (CQ HealthBeat, 7/28).
The legislation also includes:
- An exception that would allow over-the-counter sales of cold medicines for children that contain 15 milligrams or less of pseudoephedrine.
- A provision that would delay the effective date of the legislation until Jan. 1, 2007, for medications that contain pseudoephedrine in combination with other ingredients; the bill would become effective for medications in which pseudoephedrine is the only active ingredient 90 days after enactment.
- An exception for stores that do not have a pharmacist on duty, such as convenience stores and some grocery outlets; states could work with the Drug Enforcement Administration to license certain employees who are not pharmacists to sell medications that contain pseudoephedrine.
- An exception for stores in airports that sell single packages of medications that contain pseudoephedrine (AP/Washington Times, 7/29).
According to the AP/Times, the Coburn amendment "could renew resistance from retailers who don't want to deal with a patchwork of state regulations on cold medicine sales."
John Motley, senior vice president of government and public affairs for the Food Marketing Institute, said, "We made the strong argument that if you wanted retailers to enforce this law across the country with vigor and correctness, you needed to have a national standard so we didn't have to train all of our employees differently" (AP/Washington Times, 7/29).
Mary Ann Wagner, a spokesperson for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, said, "We're very disappointed today" (CQ Today, 7/28).