Pubdate: Sun, 22 May 2005
Source: Portage Daily Register (WI)
Copyright: 2005 Portage Daily Register
Author: Ben Bromley
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


A bill awaiting Gov. Jim Doyle's signature could make buying your favorite 
cold medicine a little more difficult the next time you suffer from the 

The state Senate and Assembly this month approved the bill, which would 
prohibit retailers from selling cold- and allergy-fighting tablets 
containing pseudoephedrine over the counter. Lawmakers' aim is to restrict 
methamphetamine production by limiting meth makers' access to 
pseudoephedrine, one of the drug's active ingredients.

This Wisconsin Grocers Association lobbied against the legislation, arguing 
that putting all tablet sales in pharmacists' hands would hurt grocers' 
sales and restrict consumers' access to medication.

Pierce's Supermarkets president Jeff Maurer said tablets already have been 
pulled from shelves at the company's new grocery on Baraboo's east side. He 
plans to do the same at the west-side Pick 'N' Save store, as Doyle is 
expected to sign the bill. "We're already preparing ourselves," he said.

Under the bill, only pharmacists would be allowed to sell tablets 
containing pseudoephedrine, and such products would have to be kept behind 
the counter. (Gel caps and syrups are exempt.) Consumers would be required 
to show identification and sign a log authorities would use to track down 
suspected meth makers. "It's definitely going to impact our sales," Maurer 

Manufacturers are likely to take a hit, too, and observers expect them to 
react to a swell of anti-meth legislation - other states such as Iowa and 
Minnesota already enforce rules even more restrictive than those under 
consideration here - by replacing tablets with new products, probably gel 
caps. "I think the manufacturers are going to experience a sales decline, 
as well," Maurer said. "I think they will work hard to replace that loss in 

Paul Fritsch, co-owner of Corner Drug Store in Baraboo, predicted Sudafed 
will launch a gel cap product shortly to replace the targeted tablets. 
"It's going to be right back at the grocer's shelf, anyway," Fritsch said. 
"In the long term, it'll smooth itself out again."

Tom Christianson, pharmacist at Rhyme Drug in Portage, said the legislation 
wouldn't hamper consumers' access to medicine. It just means they may have 
to choose between finding tablets in a difference place - a pharmacy 
instead a grocery aisle - and using a medicine that doesn't contain 
pseudoephedrine, of which there are plenty. "It's going to affect the sales 
of those (tablet) products more than the people who buy them, because there 
are so many alternatives," Christianson said. "People are going to have to 
try a product they haven't tried before."

The bill, which passed 33-0 in the Senate and 92-6 in the Assembly earlier 
this month, limits consumers to purchasing five boxes of caplets per month. 
Meth makers need hundreds of pills to cook an ounce of the highly addictive 

Meth has proved troublesome for Wisconsin law enforcement because it can 
easily be made in home laboratories with inexpensive ingredients, including 
crushed tablets containing pseudoephedrine. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 
reported that meth cases reported in Wisconsin nearly quadrupled from 83 in 
1999 to 314 in 2003, and involuntary placements for treatment for meth use 
reached 347 in 2003, up from 194 in 2001.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom