Bills to limit the access to a key ingredient of methamphetamine by requiring a doctor’s prescription have been killed in the Oklahoma legislature.
The Washington Post reports that narcotics agents and prosecutors, front-line advocates of the bills, found their arguments blunted by radio ads, lobbyists and a local public relations effort to resist the prescription-only plan.
Two prescription-only bills were voted down in separate House and Senate committees, with both House and Senate leadership acknowledging that it’s unlikely the issue will be revived again in 2012.
The pharmaceutical industry has succeeded in preventing prescription-only bills in Oklahoma and two other states, as well as stalling measures in two more. Lawmakers have been placed between the drug industry’s opposition to more regulation and law enforcement’s appeal to find ways to stop the growing blight of meth.
Greg Mashburn, one of several district attorneys who spoke to Oklahoma lawmakers in favor the prescription-only status, said, “Shame on the pharmaceutical companies for knowing they’re profiting off meth and pouring tons of money into this effort so they can continue to profit off of it.”
The bills pushed by Mashburn, his fellow prosecutors and drug agents target cold and allergy medications that contain pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient used to make meth. The tablet form of these products would have required a doctor’s prescription, while liquid and gel-caps could still be purchased over the counter since experts say those forms can’t be easily converted into meth.
The Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a group that represents top manufacturers and distributors of nonprescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines, is opposed to these measures, saying “We believe that requiring a prescription for these medicines containing pseudoephedrine will not solve this problem, but will only place new costs and access restrictions on law abiding Oklahomans who rely on these medicines for relief.”