Oregon’s legislature took a major step yesterday toward passage of a first-in-the-nation bill requiring prescriptions for cold and allergy medicines containing an ingredient used to make methamphetamine, reports the Oregonian. The House voted 55-4 to send the bill to the Senate. Lawmakers acknowledged that many of their constituents would resent the inconvenience and expense of having to get a prescription for common drugs such as Sudafed and Claritin D. Sponsors expect the measure to pass the Senate and be signed by Gov. Ted Kulongoski.
Blake Rice, chairman of the state Board of Pharmacy, said his board planned to put the new prescription requirement in place before the next cold and flu season. Now, cold pills with pseudoephedrine — the essential ingredient in meth — can only be purchased from pharmacies after consumers show identification and sign a log. Law enforcement officials credit those restrictions with cutting the number of meth labs in half. Sponsors of a package of bills attacking the meth epidemic are convinced they need tougher rules to stop all diversion to meth cooks.