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Should Cold Meds Be Rx Only?

There’s a federal law in place that requires logging of purchases of certain cold and allergy medications. Customers are allowed to buy them without a prescription, but are limited in daily and monthly quantities. The purpose of the law is to limit access to a chemical used in methamphetamine manufacture, but the measure isn’t having the intended effect.

The meth manufacturers are getting around the restrictions by using others to buy the over-the-counter remedies. They are organized enough to have several people helping them and fake IDs might be used as well. Doing this has allowed some “cooks” to keep on making meth, in spite of the tracking law. Police are also not impressed with the results, even though they can access the logs to find out who has been making purchases.

According at GoUpstate, a S.C. Law Enforcement Division narcotics expert says law enforcement has tracked only about 10 percent of meth manufacturers using the system.

The meth problem is ballooning in our state. This year alone, 60 meth labs have been busted in Spartanburg County, with many others found elsewhere in the state. In fact, South Carolina is on track to become a methamphetamine supplier to other states with even more strict regulations on purchases.

In several other states (Mississippi, Oregon and others) it requires a doctor’s prescription to get allergy or cold medications that contain pseudoephedrine. These state level laws have shown a dramatic decrease in meth manufacturing in those states. With the increased production here, the idea is to bring a similar system to our state.

Opponents point out that adding another level of restrictions will only punish those who are law abiding citizens – requiring them to get a prescription, which might include a doctor’s visit and other expenses, just to get something to treat the sniffles. They don’t feel that the 99% of legitimate users should have to pay the penalty for the few who intend to manufacture amphetamines.

The argument will continue in the state legislature, but is likely to have a predictable outcome: citizen inconvenience won’t trump law enforcement concerns.

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