Pubdate: Fri, 22 Apr 2005
Source: Anderson Independent-Mail (SC)
Copyright: 2005 Independent Publishing Company, a division of E.W. Scripps
Author: Crystal Boyles and Charmaine Smith


Measure would fight meth problem

State lawmakers are taking notice of the growing methamphetamine problem,
and local pharmacists this week said they would welcome a state law
restricting the sales of over-the-counter medication used to make the
illegal drug.

South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster is pushing a bill that would
allow customers to buy only three packages of cold medication containing
pseudoephedrine, the active ingredient in methamphetamine.

Just this week, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue signed into law a measure putting
drugs with the sole active ingredient pseudoephedrine behind the counter of
retailers and pharmacies.

Pharmacists in northeast Georgia said they were happy about the new law, and
Lee Propp, owner and pharmacist at Propp Drug Store in Anderson, said she
isn't bothered by the possibility of a similar restriction in South

She said she knows 90 percent of the people who come into her store for
medications and wouldn't sell an unlimited amount of any cold medicine to
someone anyway.

"Most of our people, we know them by name," Ms. Propp said. "Because we know
them, we've got a patient record."The store already limits the sale of cough
syrup with codeine by having people sign for it and show identification.
Placing similar restrictions on cold medications would be no different, she

Walgreens has a similar policy and Target Corp. has announced plans to begin
moving the pseudoephedrine medicines behind its pharmacy counters.

Under the proposed South Carolina law, people could buy only three boxes of
the restricted medicine at a time and would need to provide photo
identification and fill out a log, which would be sent to the State Law
Enforcement Division. The measure currently is in the House Judiciary

"I think the proposal would cut down on the manufacturing of meth, if those
making it knew they would have to show their ID and give their name," said
Jennifer Rogers, the lead technician for the CVS pharmacy on North Main
Street in Anderson.

She said local CVS stores already have put Sudafed and other cold medicine
that can be used to make methamphetamine behind the pharmacy counter,
forcing customers to ask for it. The chain also already limits customers to
three boxes or 300 tablets of the drug.

Next week is the deadline for bills to clear either the House or the Senate
to have a chance to be passed this year.

Michael Miller, the director for the Anderson-Oconee Regional Forensics
Laboratory, helped Mr. McMaster with the proposal and said he is strongly in
favor of it.

He said 70 methamphetamine labs were found in Anderson County last year. The
Anderson County Sheriff's Office already has handled 17 this year.

In 2002, police found 100 labs in the entire state.

"It's a good start," Mr. Miller said. "It's the quickest way to begin
dealing with this problem. With this law they wouldn't be able to go into a
store and rack off the entire stock of Sudafed and walk out with it
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