Our Opinion: Refine strategy to combat meth

Missouri legislators once again are attempting to refine their remedy for restricting a key ingredient in the manufacture of meth.

Meth, short for methamphetamines, is a dangerous and deadly illegal drug. Explosions and fires have been linked to the manufacture the highly addictive substance.

Among its ingredients is pseudoephedrine, also used in a number of common cold medicines.

State lawmakers have limited over-the-counter sales of cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine. Purchases are tracked by a real-time electronic system funded by the pharmaceutical industry.

A number of local governments in Missouri have gone a step further and required a doctor’s prescription to purchase cold medicines containing the meth precursor.

Some proponents of the prescription requirement advocate that approach statewide.

Another approach — to retain, but further restrict, limits — has been proposed by state Rep. Stanley Cox, R-Sedalia. Under his bill, the limit would be reduced from 9 grams to 7.5 grams over a 30-day period, with an annual limit of 60 grams.

Credit Cox with trying to find the proper balance between combating meth without creating added suffering for victims of the common cold.

We favor a balanced approach.

The electronic tracking system has been characterized as “extremely effective” by the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators. In 2011, the system blocked sales of more than 49,000 boxes of medicines containing pseudoephedrine.

Banning over-the-counter sales would create consequences not linked to combating illegal drugs.

Those consequences include delays, inconvenience and added costs as cold sufferers crowd doctors offices to seek prescriptions previously available as over-the-counter, cold-relief medicines.

We defer to pharmacists and other professionals to specify the precise amounts in a balanced formula that combats meth without causing collateral damage to cold sufferers.

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