House OKs Sudafed restrictions with no debate

Friday, April 11, 2003

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Sudafed and numerous other common cold and flu products would literally become over-the-counter medications under legislation that cleared the House of Representatives Thursday.

The bill would require stores to keep nonprescription products that contain ephedrine or pseudoephedrine as the sole active ingredient behind the counter or within at least 6 feet of it and in clear view of a clerk.

The legislation is sought by law enforcement groups as a way to discourage the theft of such products, which serve as the base components for the production of methamphetamine. With no debate, the House voted 136-12 to send the bill to the Senate. No Southeast Missouri lawmakers voted against the measure.

Retail groups and major pharmaceutical companies, such as Bayer and Johnson & Johnson, oppose the measure, saying it would cover so many products as to pose an undue burden in terms of storage. State Rep. Jim Seigfreid, who owns a grocery store, was among the opponents.

"We're micromanaging retail businesses with this bill," said Seigfreid, D- Marshall. "We should not be telling these people how to run their business. If this is such a bad product, then we ought to make people get a prescription to get it."

However, state Rep. Rob Mayer, the bill's sponsor, said products that contain other active ingredients in addition to ephedrine or pseudoephedrine would be exempt.

"I did the research, and there are just too many of those multi-ingredient products to put behind the counter," said Mayer, R-Dexter. "I believe there are plenty of products still out there on the shelf people can purchase that are the kinds of products the meth cookers don't want to use."

Mayer said he believes the bill strikes a balance between addressing the methamphetamine problem without unduly burdening retailers.

The bill also limits consumers to two packages of the relevant products per purchase. Existing Missouri law sets a three-package per-purchase restriction.

The bill is HB 470.

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