Rep. Linda Belcher to try again with bill to make pseudoephedrine prescription only

09/27/2011 06:50 AM

Lawmakers who want to require prescriptions for cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine will try again in 2012 — this time with an exemption for liquid capsules of that medication.

Democratic Rep. Linda Belcher of Shepherdsville sponsored the House bill earlier this year that would have moved medicines with pseudoephedrine behind the counter. It is a key ingredient in the destructive drug, methamphetamine.

The proposal, which has been implemented in Mississippi and Oregon, touched off a controversial debate that was anything but partisan. It divided big name Republicans and Democrats as well as pharmacists and voters.

Belcher said she will try again but this time will exempt liquid capsules with pseudoephedrine because the ingredient can’t be easily extracted in that form to use in meth making. (See 5:25 of the interview).

The debate remains a hot-button political issue. For instance, the candidates for attorney general fall on opposite sides. Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway joined a rally in favor of the legislation while the General Assembly was in session. Republican challenger Todd P’Pool said

“I think the barrier is too high to law abiding citizens, and we’re focused on such a narrow area of the bad actors,” P’Pool said last month on Pure Politics.

Belcher, reacting to that at 2:25 in the interview, said she understands that argument.

“The problem is that we have not found another way that we can get rid of this problem,” Belcher said.

Belcher said the current “Meth Check” system isn’t working. It was part of legislation that passed in 2005 and is supposed to track purchases of over-the-counter cold medicines with pseudoephedrine.

“According to the figures we have, it is not working, because we’re still seeing a rise in meth labs,” she said at 4:45 of the interview.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association, which represents makers of over-the-counter drugs, issued a letter Sept. 13 re-stating its opposition to making pseudoephedrine prescription only. Instead, the organization is pushing for a “block list” similar to what Oklahoma implemented and Tennessee is about to try that would more closely monitor people — nicknamed “smurfers” — who try to shop around to collect medicines with pseudoephedrine. Click here to read the letter: CHPA LETTER.pdf


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