Pubdate: Tue, 24 Jan 2006
Source: State, The (SC)
Copyright: 2006 The State
Author: Rick Brundrett
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Law Officers Like Cold-Remedy Rules; Pharmacy Group Raises Concerns

Proposed state legislation calling for tighter controls on the sale 
of certain cold remedy drugs would put a major dent in 
methamphetamine production, the bill's sponsor says.

But a pharmacy group has concerns that the bill would create a 
paperwork burden on its members.

A bill proposed by Rep. Joan Brady, R-Richland, would require that 
all stores-- from pharmacies to convenience stores -- place drugs 
containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine as the sole active ingredient 
behind sales counters.

The compounds, found in certain over-the-counter cold remedy and 
decongestant drugs such as Sudafed, are used to produce 
methamphetamines, law enforcement officials say.

Under Brady's bill, customers could buy the restricted items only 
after presenting photo identification and signing a log listing their 
name and address. The logs would be provided to the State Law 
Enforcement Division.

The bill, first introduced last year, passed the House this month and 
is in the Senate. Similar legislation passed last year in neighboring 
North Carolina and Georgia.

"This legislation will especially curtail the smallest producers," 
Brady said Monday. "We have a proliferation of small meth labs."

Law enforcement agencies raided 245 meth labs in South Carolina from 
Oct. 1, 2004, to Sept. 30, 2005, and 254 labs the previous fiscal 
year, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

On Monday, state Attorney General Henry McMaster announced that 40 
people were arrested on charges of being involved with an Upstate 
methamphetamine trafficking ring. He described the bust as the 
largest in state history.

Brady said while her bill is targeted primarily at small labs, it 
also could discourage large operations by limiting purchases. Jeff 
Moore, executive director of the S.C. Sheriff's Association, said 
Monday his organization is "in full support" of the bill.

"We think it's an important tool in the fight against 
methamphetamines, which is an ever-growing problem," he said.

But Jim Bracewell, executive vice president of the S.C. Pharmacy 
Association, said although his organization supports the intent of 
the bill, it would create "another layer of record-keeping."

"We think it perhaps can be improved," he said, adding many 
pharmacies already are voluntarily restricting sales of the drugs in question.
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