State and local efforts to thwart methamphetamine production by further limiting consumer access to a popular decongestant are pitting law enforcement against pharmacists and patients, reports USA Today. New ordinances in some Missouri communities and legislation pending in several states would require consumers to get a prescription to buy cold and allergy pills containing pseudoephedrine, such as Sudafed and Claritin-D. The medicines still are being purchased at pharmacies to make methamphetamine, despite an earlier nationwide effort to track sales.
The goal is to eliminate meth labs – often in homes or hotel rooms – that use a mixture of toxic chemicals that can explode or catch fire, putting bystanders at risk and requiring costly cleanups. About 15 million Americans use pseudoephedrine products. Requiring prescriptions will delay access to the quick-acting medication and drive up costs to consumers through more doctor visits and co-pays, said Ron Fitzwater of the Missouri Pharmacy Association, which opposes prescription laws. The Consumer Healthcare Products Association, which represents makers of over-the-counter medication, also is against the restrictions.