The Kentucky Narcotic Officer’s Association has voted to draft a bill to make a prescription necessary for products containing pseudoephedrine.
The KNOA is still looking for a state house or senate member to sponsor the legislation.
Jeff Scruggs, director of the Barren-Edmonson County Drug Task Force, is one of those supporting a move to make products containing pseudoephedrine a schedule three narcotic, meaning a prescription would be necessary to purchase products. pseudoephedrine is one of the primary ingredients in methamphetamine production.
“We need to do something better,” he said.
Those who want to make meth have learned how to circumvent the MethCheck system, Scruggs said. Another idea needs to be tried.
“We’ve seen as many as five people in a car go to a pharmacy and buy pseudoephedrine. One will go in and purchase the legal limit, then another and then another,” he said. “These people can fly under the radar of the MethCheck system and then sell pseudoephedrine to (meth) cooks.”
Meth cooks were having trouble getting enough pseudoephedrine after the MethCheck was instituted, before they would just go from pharmacy to pharmacy purchasing their limit at each one, Scruggs said.
There were too many of them getting arrested to do that as well, he said. Now people who sell pseudoephedrine to cook for meth can purchase a bottle for $10 and then sell it for $25 to $50.
Just through May of this year, meth laboratories were already up 216 percent compared to the entire previous in cases investigated by the task force, Scruggs said. Prescription drug cases are also up 66 percent for the year.
Pharmacist Robert Oliver, owner of Glasgow Prescription Center, agrees people who intend to make meth are taking advantage of a loophole in the law by having others purchase pseudoephedrine, but requiring a prescription will only hurt those who are sick and congested.
“We need to leave the decision up to the pharmacist to be able help people,” he said.
There is another chemical that can be used to treat congestion and allergies, but its just not as effective as drugs such as Sudafed, Oliver said.
Doctors would probably have some resistance to this of bill as well. They are already busy and don’t think they would want to call in a prescription every time someone has an allergy attack, he said.
Oliver said because he owns his pharmacy he has an easier time making policies.
Unless someone is showing obvious symptoms, Oliver said he won’t sell pseudoephedrine products to someone who doesn’t live in Barren County.
"We’re smaller and better able to notice things,” he said.
A pharmacist at Walmart just can’t see a group of people who traveled together to a store to purchase the product, Oliver said.
If Sudafed and similar products were made prescription drugs it would be the patients who would suffer, he said.
“There’s got to be another solution,” Oliver said.
Anything that would reduce the number of meth-related cases would be good, said Karen Davis, commonwealth’s attorney for Barren and Metcalfe counties. If making pseudoephedrine a controlled substance would do that, then it’s a positive development.
“We have had a number of meth cases where the defendant said they had traded the box of Sudafed for the finished product,” she said.
It’s possible by making Sudafed a prescription product the person would not be able to get that box to trade, Davis said.
This would make it easier for law enforcement officers, who would then just have to review doctors to ensure they’re not writing illegitimate prescriptions, Scruggs said.
“I think there are a lot fewer doctors out there that are willing to do that than people who are willing to go around and pill shop,” he said.
Following the manufacturer’s direction’s for a 30 mg pseudoephedrine pill it would take two and a half adults a full month to consume the legal amount they can purchase in Kentucky.
“The law is pretty liberal,” Scruggs said.
Kentucky, if it make pseudoephedrine a prescription substance, would be only the second state to do so after Oregon.
Kentucky can take a stance. Some people would go to Tennessee to purchase pseudoephedrine, Scruggs said.
“But they wouldn’t be coming here,” he said.
Scruggs estimated there are several hundred people who purchase pseudoephedrine for meth cooks within Barren and a couple of surrounding counties.
Hopefully, a change in Kentucky could lead to a national law, he said.
By BURTON SPEAKMAN
December 26, 2009
Glasgow Daily Times
Officials want pseudoephedrine labeled a narcotic