A key ingredient in the making of methamphetamine, the viciously addictive drug made from a variety of widely available chemicals, is pseudoephedrine, which is also found in over-the-counter cold remedies.
In Missouri and other states, laws have been passed that limit the quantities of pseudoephedrine that can be sold and that require records to be kept of who buys these products. But drug enforcement officials say this law, a step in the right direction, is easily skirted because there is no centralized database to track who makes multiple purchases.
Last month, Poplar Bluff, Mo., became the third city in Missouri -- the others are Washington and Union to the west of St. Louis -- to adopt ordinances requiring a prescription for the purchase of any product containing pseudoephedrine. Police in Washington say such sales have dropped 94 percent since the ordinance was adopted in July.
Officials with the Southeast Missouri Drug Task Force say they hope more cities will consider such an ordinance. They say they would expect to see sizable reductions in the sale of items containing this key meth ingredient.
It's too early to tell what the long-term impact of such ordinances will be. But the outcome is certainly worth watching.