This time, drug makers' group spending money to fight smurfing, not proposed legislation

11/19/2012 07:04 PM

LEXINGTON — This time last year, the group that represents over-the-counter drug makers was gearing up to spend its money on ads criticizing a proposed anti-meth bill that called for limiting the purchase of pseudoephedrine.

On Monday, the group — the Consumer Healthcare Products Association — teamed up with one of the major proponents of that bill in announcing a public-private sponsorship aimed at curtailing the “smurfing” of pseudoephedrine. The education campaign will feature posters and cards on display at Kentucky pharmacy counters.

Consumer Healthcare Products Association representatives joined the press conference at Wheeler’s Pharmacy in Lexington with Gov. Steve Beshear and Sen. Robert Stivers, the Manchester Republican who sponsored the legislation that passed during this year’s General Assembly session.

Smurfers buy as much cold and allergy medicine containing pseudoephedrine as they can and then sell it to methamphetamine makers. Officials want individuals to know that can lead to prison time.

“This educational effort that we’re going to put on across the state of what smurfing is all about and sort of warning people that are coming in with that idea, look this is what can happen to you and these are the consequences of this, I think will be a good deterrent in this situation,” Beshear said.

Stivers said he was pleased that drug-makers’ group has launched the program.

“They were the ones that initiated this public awareness program because of their learning and knowing of what happens if ephedrine or pseudoephedrine products are diverted,” he said.

Consumer Healthcare Products Association officials said that their research showed the posters strike the appropriate balance of educating potential smurfers about the consequence of what they are about to do without alarming law-abiding people who just want to get their cold and allergy medicine.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association spent more on lobbying than any other group during the 2012 General Assembly, mostly against the proposed legislation that lowered the limit of how much cold and allergy medicine with pseudoephedrine could be bought per month and within a year. The group’s ads and testimony in legislative hearings focused on concerns that the limits would harm law-abiding citizens’ ability to get cold and allergy medicines.


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