The Cape Girardeau City Council decided Monday that the side effects of keeping cold medications containing pseudoephedrine available behind the counter and without a prescription are too much of a risk for the community.
The council voted 4-3 in favor of an ordinance requiring a prescription to buy pseudoephedrine, a component in methamphetamine manufacturing.
The split vote came a week after Gov. Jay Nixon visited the Cape Girardeau Police Department announcing he supports statewide legislation mandating a prescription to purchase Sudafed, Claritin-D and other pseudoephedrine products.
Council members engaged in little discussion before voting on the ordinance, but several Southeast Missouri law enforcement officers and an area allergy doctor encouraged them to regulate the sale of the drug.
Jason Morgan, an officer with the Poplar Bluff, Mo., Police Department spoke to the council about his city's leaders and their action in December 2009 to make pseudoephedrine available only with a prescription. He said the department has documented a 50 percent reduction in methamphetamine lab seizures.
"And we've had two complaints total from people in the last year. There hasn't been any major issues at all," Morgan said. "From a law enforcement standpoint, it's really done a lot for us."
Morgan also told the council he has viewed pseudoephedrine purchase activity on the statewide tracking database for pharmacies connected to the system in Cape Girardeau. He said he noticed more than 100 purchases from Poplar Bluff residents and of the names listed, at least 85 percent of the names were familiar to Morgan as meth users or meth manufacturers.
Jason Grellner, Missouri Narcotics Officers Association vice president, also addressed council members, giving them statistics about sales as indexed in the pseudoephedrine tracking system. For November, and of the 74 counties connected to the database, Cape Girardeau County ranks No. 1 for boxes sold per capita, he said.
When recommending the council approve the ordinance, though, Grellner asked the members to think of the community and who meth labs affect the most -- children. As an investigator for the Franklin County Sheriff's Department, Grellner said, he's seen too many children taken from a home where officers have seized a meth lab.
"The children need your protection," he said.
Kim Price, local legal counsel for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, spoke to the council in opposition of the ordinance, saying the regulation is a burden to legitimate purchasers of pseudoephedrine.
"Consider the alternative in place now in Missouri. ... The pseudoephedrine tracking system has not been fully implemented yet," Price said.
Shortly after the vote, CHPA's chief executive officer Scott Melville issued a statement in response to the council action.
"Citizens of Cape Girardeau and the state of Missouri deserve to have their elected officials give electronic tracking a chance to work. Missouri has already blocked over 18,000 grams of pseudoephedrine in just a few short months, and that's with only half of the state's pharmacies connected to the system," Melville wrote in an e-mail. "We hope the council will reconsider this decision at some point in the future and allow consumers to have continued immediate access to effective treatments for common ailments."
Council member Meg Davis Proffer voted against requiring prescriptions, despite the fact that her husband is a sheriff's deputy.
"I had to put that aside," she said after the meeting. "This is a legal product that has been approved by the FDA. I hate punishing people who are law-abiding citizens, but that's what this does. There's a line and when you start moving the line, what's next?"
401 Independence St., Cape Girardeau, MO