Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues
As the bill to require prescriptions for three widely used decongestants remains short of votes to pass the Senate, there is talk of a compromise measure to thwart the use of the medicines for making methamphetamine. But the bill’s sponsor says he is not open to the compromises he’s heard.
Lobbyists for drug manufacturers are circulating alternative proposals, such as applying the prescription rule only to the estimated 5,500 people convicted of a drug-related crime. Another industry proposal would cut the annual non-prescription purchase limit by more than half, from 108 grams per year to 50.
A Senate committee approved the bill on a 6-4 bipartsan vote last week, but the full Senate has passed over it for more than a week, and Jensen acknowledged in today’s interview that it lacks the votes to pass.
He said manufacturers of the 15 cold remedies “have spent a tremendous amount of money opposing it and getting a lot of misinformation out there … We, unfortunately, don’t have the funds to get out and make full-page ads and radio statements and TV commercials that say ‘That’s just not true.'” For example, the ads say the registration and tracking system is effective, but the law-enforcement officers on the radio show last week said it is not.
Rep. David Floyd, R-Bardstown, filed a bill last week to make the pill forms of the three substances “legend” drugs, those that are “available through the determination of a pharmacist or by prescription,” reports The Kentucky Standard of Bardstown. “It would not be classified as a controlled substance.” The bill would also prohibit purchases of any of the three medicines by anyone under 18 without a prescription.
“While many of us are sympathetic to those who have been adversely affected by the meth trade in Kentucky, I don’t believe making pseudoephedrine only available via a doctor’s prescription will curtail the meth problem in our commonwealth,” Floyd said in a press release. “By placing more responsibility on pharmacists who already have a monitoring system for pseudoephedrine sales, we can gain better control on those who are purchasing the product to make meth while not punishing those who need pseudoephedrine for legitimate health purposes.”
Floyd’s House Bill 376, which he said he wrote after consulting with Bardstown pharmacists, would allow pharmacists to dispense the drugs to “a person evidencing physical symptoms treatable by those products,” according to the bill summary, and “would require pharmacists to ask a series of questions to those trying to purchase a pseudoephedrine product,” the Standard reports. It would also require thrm to put the information into the state’s electronic tracking system for prescriptions.
“Local pharmacist Leon Claywell already uses a screening system to determine why a customer is buying medicine containing pseudoephedrine, Floyd said. If he thinks it is not for a legitimate purpose, he refuses to sell it,” the Standard reports.