More States Considering Prescription Laws to Battle Meth

The state of Oregon requires a prescription to purchase certain formerly over-the-counter medications that can be used to make methamphetamine, and now other states are considering similar laws, the Wall Street Journal reported Oct. 21.

The 2005 Oregon law applies to drugs that contain pseudoephedrine, which in other states can be sold without a prescription but only in limited quantities and from behind the pharmacy counter.

Meth-related arrests in Oregon have fallen 43 percent since the law went into effect, and the number of meth-lab seizures has plummeted as well. In other states, however, the number of meth labs has increased, and meth producers have sent groups of people into pharmacies to buy the maximum legal amount of pseudoephedrine drugs in order to get the raw materials they need.

The Oregon law was the basis of ordinances recently passed in Washington, Mo., and Union, Mo., and state lawmakers in Missouri, California, Oklahoma and Montana are considering similar proposals. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has drafted federal legislation that could be introduced in Congress later this year.

“To me, [what Oregon did] is the answer,” said Richard Stratman, mayor of Washington, Mo. “If you can tie up the pseudoephedrine and make it difficult to obtain, you can get the job maybe not completely done, but you can put a pretty good dent in those labs.”

Pharmaceutical companies oppose the laws, saying they are inconvenient and expensive for consumers. As an alternative, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a trade group, is proposing an electronic monitoring system for drug sales, funded by manufacturers. The system would alert local authorities about attempts to exceed the legal purchase limits.

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