Recently proposed Missouri legislation seeks to combat the state's methamphetamine problem by further limiting the amount of cold and allergy medicine people can buy while allowing most consumers to continue purchasing it without a doctor's prescription.
Missouri has passed increasingly stringent laws over the past decade in an effort to control cold and allergy medications that contain pseudoephedrine. It is found in medications such as Sudafed, Claritin-D, Advil Cold & Sinus and Mucinex-D, and is a key ingredient for making meth.
The state limits what consumers can buy and has an industry-funded electronic database to provide real-time tracking of pseudoephedrine purchases. More than 70 cities and counties have adopted local ordinances that require prescriptions for the medicines. In recent years, Gov. Jay Nixon, Attorney General Chris Koster and law officers have supported a statewide prescription requirement.
Rep. Stanley Cox said his legislation is an alternative to requiring prescriptions and would help combat what he called the "horrible plague" of meth abuse.
"There has to be a more sensible approach than making it prescription - with all the implications of prescription," said Cox, R-Sedalia. "Basically what you're doing is your taking honest law-abiding citizens, you're making all doctors have to deal with things they don't really particularly want to do, and you add cost to people's lives. And you effectively deny a lot of people this over the over-the-counter medicine that a lot of people depend on."
Under Cox's legislation, the purchasing limit for pseudoephedrine-containing medicines would be lowered from 9 grams to 7.5 grams over a 30-day period. It also would limit consumers to 60 grams per year. In addition, the caps would apply to purchases made in Missouri and other states that participate in the electronic tracking system.
The legislation also would require a doctor's prescription to obtain the cold and allergy medicines for anyone who has pleaded guilty or been convicted of a felony drug crime.
Meth has been a problem in Missouri for years. The state was the leading meth-producing state every year from 2003 to 2009 and fell behind Tennessee in 2010. Missouri re-gained the top spot in 2011, and Jefferson County southwest of St. Louis that year had more meth lab busts than Texas, Florida and California combined.
The Missouri House in 2011 passed legislation would have required a prescription for hard tablet versions of the medicine while allowing liquids and gel-caps containing the substance to remain over-the-counter. It was not considered by the full Senate. The Consumer Healthcare Products Association that represents manufacturers of over-the-counter drugs ran radio ads against that legislation.