CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (Dec. 1) Gov. Jay Nixon, D-Mo., on Tuesday campaigned for a sweeping expansion of efforts to battle methamphetamine, including legislation that would make Missouri the third state in the nation to require a prescription for the cough-cold ingredient pseudoephedrine.
It’s not a new issue for the Show Me State — several local municipalities that fall between St. Louis and the Missouri capital of Jefferson City last year passed local ordinances that required prescriptions for PSE products.
And Nixon is advocating making PSE available as a prescription-only medicine even though Missouri is one of the states to have adopted the National Precursor Log Exchange, a multistate electronic PSE sales blocking system that is funded by the manufacturers of medicines containing PSE.
The governor acknowledged that pharmacies and law enforcement agencies are making significant progress on the database and that it is already stopping illegal purchases of pseudoephedrine. Gov. Nixon said more than half (590) of the retail pharmacies that sell pseudoephedrine over the counter in Missouri are connected to the database, with the expectation that all those pharmacies will be using the program by the beginning of 2011.
"The database is one of the tools we've put in place to help law enforcement investigate and track down meth labs, meth cooks and the 'smurfers' who supply them," Gov. Nixon said. "Winning the fight against meth means staying one step ahead of the criminals, however, and a prescription law is that next step."
Gov. Nixon said his administration will work with legislators to introduce a PSE prescription bill in the upcoming General Assembly. If passed, Missouri would join Oregon and Mississippi as the only states that currently have such a requirement.
Earlier this year, CHPA’s since-retired president and CEO Linda Suydam testified before the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control during a hearing on "The Status of Meth: Oregon's Experience Making Pseudoephedrine Prescription Only” that electronic tracking is more effective in deterring methamphetamine production. “When contrasted with electronic tracking, prescription mandates simply fall short,” she said. “A prescription mandate would be more expensive to consumers, sales limits from [the Combat Meth Act] would no longer apply, and there would be no system for real-time blocking of illegal prescription sales within states or across state lines.”
Suydam also challenged the effectiveness of Oregon’s prescription-only law, noting that most of Oregon’s lab reductions occurred prior to the state’s prescription mandate and that states across the West achieved similar results without such a burdensome restriction. “The industry supports federal legislation requiring nationwide tracking, and we are asking that the current paper system be modernized to provide a system that will work seamlessly and more effectively across all states,” Suydam said. “E-tracking systems like NPLEx are the most effective tool we have to systematically address methamphetamine production in this country. A multistate approach to electronic pseudoephedrine sales tracking offers more benefits for law enforcement and consumers than a prescription mandate, but without the substantial and unnecessary costs of a prescription approach.”