A plan to move cold medicines behind drugstore counters nationwide cleared a key U.S. Senate panel yesterday when members agreed to strip language overriding stronger state laws aimed at curbing methamphetamine use, the Oregonian reports. The concession clears the way for Oregon and potentially other states to require prescriptions for cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine, the decongestant that is the essential ingredient in meth.
The “Combat Meth Act of 2005” would target domestic meth producers who buy or steal cold medicines to extract pseudoephedrine. The bill would limit quantities sold to individuals and require buyers to provide identification. The bill is one of several anti-meth measures that have gained traction in Congress this summer as members have reacted with alarm to the drug’s rapid spread across the nation’s heartland and into East Coast states. While the Senate bill attacks local production of meth in “home labs,” two House bills would tackle the larger problem: the international flow of pseudoephedrine that is fueling meth “superlabs” in Mexico. Most of the meth consumed in the U.S. is produced in superlabs run by drug cartels.