Since they were not given the opportunity to speak at last week’s legislative hearing about a move to make pseudoephedrine available mainly by prescription, opponents held a teleconference yesterday to air their opinions. It was hosted by representatives of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, which represents makers of over-the-counter drugs.
Pat Davis, mother of six and wife of 4th District U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis, said “Our children are going to miss school, parents are going to miss time at work,” if a prescription bill passes. Davis said she was disappointed she’d not been given the opportunity to speak last week. “There wasn’t a single dissenting voice to be heard,” she said. Legislators said they ran out of time and opponents would be given a chance to be heard.
Dr. Donald Neel, an Owensboro pediatrician, said he “recommends pseudoephedrine daily because it is the only safe and effective drug that we can recommend over the counter.” He added, “It makes absolutely no sense for patients who need pseudoephedrine to have to come to the office, to take time off work. And we don’t have time to see them.” Neel said he feels “97 percent of his patients use the medicine legitimately,”
The bill at issue would require a prescription for pills containing pseudoephedrine but would not apply to medications using gelatin capsules, which are more difficult to use in meth making.
State Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, sponsor of an alternaitve bill, said the prescription measure goes too far. “Who do we punish? The soccer moms? Or the criminals?” he asked. His bill would only require the 5,500 people who have been convicted of a meth-related crime to have a prescription. It would also lower the amount of pseudoephedrine people can buy from 9 grams per month to 7.5 grams. It would continue to track the drug using MethCheck, which instantly tracks purchases at the point of sale. He called his effort “a common-sense approach.”
Law enforcement and some legislators have criticized Yonts’ bill because it won’t alleviate “smurfing,” meth cooks’ payment of others to buy pseudoephedrine for them. But Yonts said MethCheck requires people buying the drug to hand over their driver’s license and be placed in the system, allowing law enforcement to track who buys it often. “When they see these repeated efforts, they’re going to be tracked down,” he said, adding 30,000 stores and pharmacies use the system nationwide. “it’s the right solution for Kentucky, and we can block criminals from getting this,” he said.