Meth abuse and curbs on cold medicines

As states and Congress rush to put common cold, cough and allergy drugs behind the pharmacy counter to curb illegal methamphetamine production, no one has asked consumers what they think about these restrictions -- until now. Harris Interactive asked nearly 3,000 consumers about these and related issues in a national survey commissioned by the National Consumers League (NCL) and Food Marketing Institute (FMI).

About 250 products on the market contain pseudoephedrine, which meth users cook down and extract to produce illegal methamphetamine. According to law enforcement estimates, small-time abusers obtain such products from retailers to produce about 20 percent of the meth available in the U.S. The remaining 80 percent is made in large quantities by superlabs in Mexico, Canada and elsewhere.

To combat small-time production, Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Tennessee enacted laws restricting sales of some or all of these products to pharmacies, in some cases by classifying them as Schedule V drugs under the Controlled Substances Act. Oregon issued a regulation. More than 30 states are considering similar restrictions. Before Congress is the Combat Meth Act (S. 103, H.R. 314), which would place such products on Schedule V nationally, triggering a requirement in 17 states that these common over-the-counter drugs be dispensed only with a doctor's prescription.

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Its mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad.

The Food Marketing Institute conducts programs in research, education, industry relations and public affairs on behalf of its 1,500 member companies -- food retailers and wholesalers -- in the United States and around the world. FMI's U.S. members operate approximately 26,000 retail food stores with a combined annual sales volume of $340 billion -- three-quarters of the nation's food retail sales. FMI's retail membership is composed of large multi-store chains, regional firms and independent supermarkets. Its international members include 200 companies from 50 countries.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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