Senators Introduce Revised Version of Bill To Restrict Sales of Products With Methamphetamine Ingredient
Sponsors of a Senate bill that would restrict the sale of cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine, which is used to make methamphetamine, introduced a revised version of the measure Tuesday that provides exceptions for some retailers that lack a pharmacy, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports.
The bill, sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Jim Talent (R-Mo.), would limit sales of such medicines to 7.5 grams, or about 250 30-milligram pills, every 30 days (Hananel, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 6/28). The bill also would require customers to show a photo ID and sign a log to buy medications such as Sudafed and Nyquil. Only pharmacists or pharmacy personnel would be allowed to sell the products.
The bill is modeled on an Oklahoma law that took effect in April. More than a dozen states have enacted similar laws. Kmart, Target, Walgreen, Wal-Mart and other retailers have introduced policies to restrict sales of drugs containing pseudoephedrine. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores in May endorsed guidelines that include restricting access to the drugs (California Healthline, 6/6).
Under the revised bill, state legislatures would be given the option to establish a special licensing system with the Drug Enforcement Administration for employees who are not pharmacists to sell the medicines (Shesgreen, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 6/29). Other provisions in the revised version would:
- Create an exception for stores in airports to sell cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine in single packages;
- Fund a national meth treatment center to research treatments for meth abuse;
- Allot local law enforcement and federal prosecutors $25 million to take action against meth manufacturers and dealers (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 6/29); and
- Allow medicines that include pseudoephedrine with other ingredients to remain on store shelves until January 2007 (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 6/29).
According to the AP/Sun, legislators made the changes after retailers -- such as convenience stores and some grocery store chains -- voiced concerns that they would lose sales under the measure (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 6/29). According to the Post-Dispatch, the revisions helped gain support from California-based grocery chain Safeway and the Food Marketing Institute, the retail food industry's lobbying arm (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 6/29).
Talent said, "One of the things we wanted to do is make certain legitimate consumers who have allergy or other problems can have access to the cold medicines they need" (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 6/29).
The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on the measure Thursday (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 6/29). If approved in committee, the measure could go before the full Senate for a vote next month. Similar legislation is pending in the House (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 6/29).
In related news, USA Today on Wednesday examined how some manufacturers of cold medications are "reformulating their products" to impede those who use the drugs to make methamphetamine and to address an increasing number of state laws restricting over-the-counter sales of medicines containing pseudoephedrine.
Pfizer and generics manufacturer Leiner Health Products are introducing versions of decongestants that use phenylephrine instead of pseudoephedrine. Phenylephrine, which has been on the market "for years," works similarly to pseudoephedrine and is FDA-approved, USA Today reports.
In January, Pfizer introduced a decongestant-only phenylephrine product, called Sudafed PE, and next month the company will introduce other products that contain phenylephrine with other ingredients, according to Pfizer spokesperson Jay Kosminsky. Pfizer also has been working to create a pseudoephedrine product that cannot be used to produce meth, but such efforts have not yet produced a completely "fool-proof" formula, USA Today reports (Leinwand, USA Today, 6/29).