Compromise meds-for-meth bill clears committee; third drug-related bill to pass this week

Update, March 2: Just hours after the committee approved the bill, Senate Majority Leader Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, “declared its future uncertain,” reports Jack Brammer for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Stivers said there is “a very successful lobbying campaign” against Senate Bill 3 and said he did not “want to subject lawmakers to continued pressure by the makers of pseudoephedrine,” Brammer reports. Though he wouldn’t call the bill dead for this year, Stivers said he would decide soon on whether he would continue to pursue the bill’s future. (Read more)

The compromise bill that will require a prescription to buy pseudoephedrine after a monthly or annual limit is reached passed 7-4 in the Senate Judiciary Committee this afternoon.

Senate Bill 3 will allow people to buy up to 3.6 grams of the drug a month and a maximum of 15 grams per year. After those limits have been reached, patients will have to see a doctor to obtain a prescription for more. The intent of the bill is to curb methamphetamine production — pseudoephedrine is the key ingredient to make the drug.
Now, people are limited to buying 9 grams per month and 120 grams per year.
Today, the committee approved an amendment to the bill, which will allow patients to buy 7.5 grams per month if a doctor says that amount if required, which amounts to 90 grams a year under these special circumstances.
The bill also prevents anyone who has been convicted of any drug-related crime — whether the crime was related to meth or not — from buying pseudoephedrine without a prescription for five years.
Sen. Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, made an impassioned argument for the bill, which he introduced earlier this week. He said the compromise works because “any box you look on will tell you that you should take this for no more than 14 consecutive days without seeing a doctor.” The 3.6-gram monthly allotment will allow for 14 days’ use.
As for the criticism that the reduction won’t be enough to cover whole families who may be suffering from allergies or cold, Stivers argued “anyone who is subjecting a child to this continuous use on a repetitive basis is not really taking care of the child or the symptoms that cause their problems.”
Carlos Gutiérrez of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, which represents makers of over-the-counter medicine, said it is “adamantly against” the compromise bill, saying “we feel very strongly about the rights of consumers to buy a legal product.” He pointed out if a chronic allergy sufferer takes 1 pill a day, that adds up to 7.2 grams per month.
Sen. Tom Jensen, R-London, questioned Guetiérrez and had him confirm that 84 percent of people who buy pseudoephedrine use less than 15 grams of the medicine per month, according to 2010 figures. He further established that the remaining 16 percent of people are buying 60 percent of all the pseudoephedrine sold in Kentucky.
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