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Bill Proposes New Tactic In Fight Against Meth

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Attempts to stop Kansans from making meth can sometimes feel like a losing battle. Now, one especially hard hit community is hoping an over-the-counter overhaul will be the latest tactic in the fight against the drug.

I was able to buy pseudoephedrine, a decongestant medicine, from a pharmacy just by showing my identification and signing my name. That's current Kansas law. But, some law enforcement agencies want the legislature to change the law so you have to have a prescription to buy pseudoephedrine.

Pseudoephedrine is a commonly used product used to relieve nasal congestion caused by colds, allergies, and hay fever. Why these products with names like Advil, Aleve-D, Alavert, Claritin-D, and others are behind the pharmacy counter is because they all contain pseudoephedrine.

Up until six years ago, these types of drugs were all sold over-the-counter. But while law abiding citizens buy the drugs for legitimate reasons, methamphetamine makers buy the products because pseudoephedrine is necessary in making the illegal drug.

"Methamphetamine is the second most abused drug in Cowley County, but it has the most significant and detrimental consequences to our public safety," Arkansas City Police Department Chief Sean Wallace said.

Chief Wallace testified before a state senate committee asking them to change the law to make pseudoephedrine products available only with a prescription.

"If pseudoephedrine is prescription only, no amount of theft and no amount of mobilization will allow them to get enough pseudoephedrine to manufacture the product. And, pseudoephedrine is the only part of the ingredients in methamphetamines that can not be substituted with something else," Chief Wallace added.

Dared Price owns Graves Drug in Winfield and Arkansas City. He's concerned about requiring people to see a doctor for a prescription before they can purchase these products. "I definitely see the need. Anything that cuts down on the illegal drug use in the state or this country, we're all for that. On the other hand, access to care is already a big issue in health care," Price said.

Law enforcement officers like Chief Wallace say the inconvenience of pseudoephedrine being a prescription-only drug could be well worth it if it cuts down on the manufacturing of methamphetamines.


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