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Our Opinion: Bill ineffective against meth, penalizes cold sufferers

Our Opinion: Bill ineffective against meth, penalizes cold sufferers

May 11th, 2011 in News

Missouri lawmakers continue to pander to public sentiment with legislation that purports to be tough on crime but, as a practical matter, only aggravates public misery.

The proposal is designed to crack down on manufacturers of methamphetamine by requiring a physician's prescription to purchase some allergy and cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine.

Pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient in making meth, a dangerous and highly addictive illegal drug.

The House approved the measure Monday on an 86-64 vote and advanced it to the Senate.

Under the proposal, the prescription requirement would apply to tablets, but not to liquids and gel caps containing pseudoephedrine.

We have opposed previous incarnations of the proposal because we believe they would do little to diminish the meth industry, while creating an added burden for people seeking quick, inexpensive relief for the common cold.

Our objection remains.

We find the distinction among tablets, liquids and gels caps largely disingenuous.

Admittedly, tablets are preferred by meth makers; liquids and gel caps require more deliberate separation of components.

Tablets, however, also are preferred by a large majority of cold and allergy sufferers.

Remedies in tablet form make up 80-90 percent of sales, according to Darryl Hubble, pharmacist at Whaley's East End Drug.

Tablets are effective and, in generic form, less expensive than name brands, Hubble explained. Gel caps are not available yet in generic form and liquids are largely designed for children.

Existing law requires pharmacists to limit and track purchases of over-the-counter medicines containing pseudoephedrine. Since Jan. 1, an industry-funded, electronic database makes that data available immediately to other pharmacists and law enforcement officials. The database tracks what a buyer has purchased, when they reach the limit and whenever they are denied additional purchases.

We believe that comprehensive tracking system eliminates the need for a prescription requirement.

All a prescription requirement would achieve for a cold or allergy sufferer is protracted time to arrange and visit a physician and additional costs linked to doctors' appointments, insurance and medication.

The proposed law would do little, if anything, to curb crime and would inflict added misery on law-abiding Missourians suffering allergies and colds.

We urge senators to allow this bill to expire.