Kentucky introduces PSE Rx legislation

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The battle for the prescription status of methamphetamine precursor/popular cough-cold ingredient pseudoephedrine now is heating up in Kentucky, just a few days following a Nevada news report that suggested the state will be considering PSE prescription-only requirements just as soon as a bill is introduced by Nevada Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno.

Kentucky Reps. Linda Belcher, D-Shepherdsville, and Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, introduced legislation to establish a PSE prescription-only requirement on the first day of the General Assembly — Jan. 4. Kentucky Sen. Tom Jensen, R-London, introduced similar legislation in the Senate.

The Kentucky Legislative Research Commission on Thursday entertained presentations from both sides of the argument, including Mandy Hagan, director of state government relations for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, who testified on behalf of the industry.

Proponents of the prescription-only solution pointed to the significant reduction in methamphetamine busts in Oregon and Mississippi, two states that currently require prescriptions for PSE purchases, according to a report in the Lexington Herald Leader that covered the meeting.

Proponents of an electronic logging system, such as MethCheck, that currently is up and running in Kentucky, contended that the increase in methamphetamine-related crimes was a direct result of law enforcement’s ability to track PSE sales in real time.

"We are seeing an increase in the number of meth labs [found] because of the information that MethCheck provides," testified Daviess County Sheriff Keith Cain, as reported in the Herald Leader report. "It has proven to be very helpful in tracking individuals who are trying to [buy over-the-counter drugs to produce methamphetamine]."

If pseudoephedrine requires a prescription in the future, buyers would be tracked in Kentucky by the All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting system, or KASPER, which tracks every prescription for controlled substances written in the state, Cain continued. There typically is a lag of several days for KASPER reports, compared with the real-time reporting capabilities associated with MethCheck.

However, Kentucky State Police Major Joe Williams testified that most of the meth labs found in Kentucky were not uncovered using MethCheck.

According to the Herald Leader report, Kentucky's meth lab incidents totaled more than 1,000 in 2010. A report released by the legislature's Program Review and Investigations Committee identified a 70% decline in the number of meth lab incidents in Mississippi.

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