Stopping meth

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Missouri has led the nation in the seizure of methamphetamine labs for 10 consecutive years -- a distinction the state would like to lose.

One step in an effort to crack down on the production of meth was taken by Cape Girardeau and Scott City recently as both city councils passed an ordinance to require a prescription for products containing pseudoephedrine -- a key ingredient in the manufacturing of the highly addictive drug.

Gov. Jay Nixon is urging the Missouri Legislature to pass legislation making Missouri the third state in the nation to require a doctor's prescription for pseudoephedrine-containing cold medications.

The debate over whether a prescription should be required for these types of purchases has been a contentious one. Proponents say measures like these will go a long way in curtailing the production of meth in Missouri. Opponents say the requirement will impose additional costs on legitimate users. They also argue that before moving forward with prescription-only laws, the state should give the recently implemented computerized tracking system -- designed to help block high-volume purchases of pseudoephedrine-containing products -- a chance to work.

The tracking system -- which is required to be implemented by pharmacies by the end of this month -- is said to be an effective tool for law enforcement. Several of Missouri's border states also use the same or a similar system.

While both sides present valid arguments, a key concern moving forward is the usefulness of the tracking system for prescription-requiring cities and the state, should pseudoephedrine-by-prescription legislation move forward. Currently, the system is not an available tool for law enforcement in cities that have a prescription ordinance due to HIPAA laws.

Should the legislature pass a law requiring a prescription for products containing pseudoephedrine, they should also allow law enforcement the option to use the tracking system.

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