Pubdate: Sat, 25 Jun 2005
Source: Statesman Journal (Salem, OR)
Copyright: 2005 Statesman Journal
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Getting A Doctor's Prescription For Cold Medicine Goes Too Far

The more that Oregonians learn about methamphetamine's grim effects,
the more they want to get tough on people who make drugs.

The trick is finding a way to do that without getting unreasonably
tough on everyone else. Making some cold medications "prescription
only" crosses that line.

That's part of a package of anti-meth bills before the Legislature: House
Bill 2485 and Senate Bill 907. The House Judiciary Committee added the
controversial provision Thursday. The bills include an array of additional
steps, from extra penalties for meth makers who endanger children to added
support for drug courts that help former addicts stay clean.

If Sudafed and similar medications are available by prescription only,
it will be harder for criminals to get a key ingredient for making
meth. But law-abiding Oregonians will suffer.

Oregonians already have to wait in line at the store counter, show ID
and sign their name to buy these cold remedies. That system has taken
shape since fall, when Gov. Ted Kulongoski asked the state Board of
Pharmacy to restrict sales of non-prescription decongestants
containing pseudoephedrine.

So far, this rule has applied only to hard pills containing
pseudoephedrine. But criminals are figuring out how to extract
pseudoephedrine from soft gel capsules and syrups, so the House
committee decided to treat these forms of medication just the same as

Waiting in line to buy Sudafed is one thing; having to see your doctor
for a prescription is another.

One in six people in this state has no health insurance. They would be
out of luck. So would insured people who fell sick after office hours.

Already-burdened medical offices would have to prescribe by phone or
squeeze in countless extra appointments. This seems unnecessary. Drug
companies announced this week that they are reformulating their cold
medications anyway. They'll replace pseudoephedrine-based remedies
with phenylephrine, a decongestant that can't be reprocessed to make

Congress should nudge that process along by banning the sale and
transport of any medications containing pseudoephedrine.

In the meantime, the feds should take Oregon's law nationwide and
apply it to all pseudoephedrine products, making them available to
customers who sign in and show ID at stores.

Oregon's current system apparently is having an effect on small-scale,
local drug operations. Give it a chance to work.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin