Pubdate: Fri, 12 Feb 2010
Source: Clarion-Ledger, The (Jackson, MS)
Copyright: 2010 The Clarion-Ledger
Author: Justin Fritscher
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Hinds County Judge William Skinner said stopping methamphetamine 
abuse is worth the inconveniences caused by a new law that will 
restrict use of decongestant medicines, the main ingredient of meth.

"We took a lot of heat over supporting this," Skinner said, noting 
his three years presiding over the county's drug and Youth courts 
showed him the ill effects of meth abuse.

Gov. Haley Barbour signed House Bill 512 on Thursday requiring 
prescriptions to purchase medicine that contains pseudoephedrine, 
like Sudafed D and Zyrtec D. The Legislature overwhelmingly approved 
the measure.

The law takes effect July 1.

Law enforcement officials say the new law will decrease meth use. 
Others have criticized it, saying its burdensome and unfair.

Joan Blanks, a Pearl resident who occasionally uses the medicine to 
remedy sinus issues, called the legislative action severe.

"I don't want to call my doctor when I have sinus issues," Blanks 
said. "It's not easy getting in touch with a doctor all the time, and 
a lot of folks don't have a doctor."

Blanks said she wouldn't mind if the medicines were just kept behind 
the counter.

"I haven't done anything to cause a right to be taken away," she said.

Dr. Diane Beebe said she's expecting a higher volume of people 
visiting Lakeland Family Practice Center. She said there already have 
been calls inquiring about what the law entails.

People with a regular physician and diagnosed to suffer from seasonal 
allergies likely won't have to visit a doctor each time they need a 
refill, Beebe said. Rather, these patients probably can have their 
prescription called in, Beebe said.

It's still unclear if the law would increase the costs of these 
medicines and if insurance companies will cover them. Blue Cross & 
Blue Shield of Mississippi is reviewing the new law, spokesman John 
Sewell said.

Medicines obtained by a prescription will be tracked from pharmacy to 
pharmacy, something not currently done for drugs containing 
pseudoephedrine, Mississippi Department of Public Safety spokesman 
Jon Kalahar said.

Right now, to buy drugs with pseudoephedrine, a person shows an ID, 
and the pharmacy may or may not keep record of it. And if the 
purchase were recorded, information is not typically shared between 
different pharmacy corporations, Kalahar said.

Rankin County Sheriff Ronnie Pennington said meth use has ballooned 
in the suburban county in the past two years. Rankin leads the metro 
area in seizures of meth labs, according to data from the Mississippi 
Bureau of Narcotics. Rankin is just ahead of coastal counties in meth use.

Ryan Harper, a pharmacist at Brandon Discount Drugs, said alternative 
medicine still will be on the shelves.
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