ST. CHARLES, Mo. (KMOX) – The St. Charles County Council votes Monday night on a proposal to require a prescription to purchase medicine that contains an ingredient used to make the illegal drug, methamphetamine.
In a county where 96 meth labs have been taken down this year, the plan has widespread support on the seven member council and is expected to pass.
Hoping to persuade council members to consider alternatives, opponents of the plan held a news conference outside the county government building.
Joy Krieger with the Allergy Foundation of America, St. Louis chapter, says the plan would put a burden on people who rely on over-the-counter cold pills such as Advil Cold and Sinus, Allegra D, Clariton D, Mucinex D and Sudafed.
“Now, you will have to call your physician ,” Krieger said, “You’ll have to make an appointment. You’ll take off work. There will be a co-pay involved. The prescription for the medication will go up.”
Krieger was joined by the President of the Missouri Retailers Association, David Overfelt, who says law enforcement should concentrate on existing electronic tracking systems to find out who is buying large quantities of the pseudoephedrine products.
“With that, you can find the people who are smurfing,” Overfelt said, “With NPLEx there are a number of tools that law enforcement can use to go after the people who are breaking the law.”
St. Charles County Sheriff Tom Neer disagrees. “The problem with e-tracking is once its determined who’s bought the pseudoephedrine products, the meth is probably already in production or on the street”
Neer says opponents of the proposed law are “exaggerating” when they predict long lines at doctors’ offices or people having to take off work to get cold pills.
“Our interest is public safety,” Neer said, “The opponents interest, for the most part, is revenue.”
Neer says he hopes the growing number of Missouri counties considering or enacting pseudoephedrine prescription laws will prompt the Missouri legislature to pass statewide legislation. Last session, such a bill passed the Missouri House, but stalled in the state Senate. Neer says he has been in contact with lawmakers in hopes of getting the issue tackled in the September special session, but admits he’s not encouraged it will happen.
So far, two states Oregon and Mississippi, have passed statewide legislation requiring a prescription for pseudoephedrine products. Neer says the five-year old Oregon law made that state’s meth problem “practically non-existent,” and a similar law in Mississippi in place for about a year has “had a dramatic impact.”
Opponents say such laws are no panacea against meth. They claim that the number of people in Oregon who died because of meth rose 22 percent since the state passed a law requiring a prescription for pseudoephedrine products. They also say four years after Oregon’s law took effect, more than 80 percent of Oregon law enforcement site meth as the “greatest drug threat.”
Those against the proposed St. Charles county law say they hope to meet with council members to persuade them to vote “no” before Monday night’s council meeting.