JEFFERSON CITY - An industry group representing manufacturers of over-the-counter drugs has begun running radio ads against a Missouri proposal requiring a doctor's prescription to buy certain cold medicines that can be used to make the illegal drug methamphetamine.
The ads by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association target legislation pertaining to medications containing pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in methamphetamine. Supporters of the legislation hope to cut down on Missouri's meth production by making it harder for people to get ahold of pseudoephedrine.
The ads urge people to call lawmakers and tell them to "keep government out of your medicine cabinet."
At issue are cold and allergy medicines such as Sudafed, Claritin-D, Advil Cold & Sinus and Mucinex-D.
"The large majority of consumers oppose a prescription requirement to access cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine," Elizabeth Funderburk, a spokeswoman for the healthcare products group, said Friday. She added: "We know how things can quickly move in any state capital and want to make sure that - in advance of that - consumers are aware of the issue and their voices are heard."
The organization also ran ads earlier this year against pseudoephedrine prescription proposals in Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia, she said.
Tennessee and Missouri ranked at the top nationally in meth lab incidents last year. Over the past decade, Missouri has passed a series of increasingly stringent laws to try to control the sale of pseudoephedrine medicines. The state already has mandated the medicines be moved behind the pharmacy counter, limited the quantities people can buy and required photo identification to purchase them.
In recent months, Missouri also implemented an industry-funded electronic database to provide real-time tracking of pseudoephedrine purchases with the hope of blocking sales to people stockpiling the drugs.
The pharmaceutical industry has urged lawmakers to wait to see if the database helps reduce meth incidents before trying something new.
But Gov. Jay Nixon and Attorney General Chris Koster both are backing efforts for Missouri to join Oregon and Mississippi in requiring a prescription for pseudoephedrine. They, and other supporters of the legislation, note that meth lab incidents have declined in those two other states.
A House committee heard testimony on the legislation earlier this month but has not voted on it.
House Speaker Steven Tilley, R-Perryville, said he has opposed such legislation in the past but now is "conflicted" about whether to require a prescription to buy pseudoephedrine.
"I think what you do with that is force law-abiding citizens to have to go see a doctor to fix a problem they used to be able to go to Walgreens to fix," Tilley told reporters last week.
But Tilley noted that several Missouri cities already have enacted their own ordinances requiring a prescription, which he said is building momentum for a statewide law.