NC battle against meth could mean prescriptions for cold meds

Posted December 12, 2012

— A legislative panel on Wednesday suggested requiring a prescription for cold remedies containing one of the main ingredients used to make methamphetamine.

Lawmakers in 2005 ordered North Carolina pharmacies to put medicines containing pseudoephedrine behind the counter to make it more difficult for people to use them to cook up meth. Last year, pharmacists began entering customer names into a national database when they buy the medicines to alert them to anyone buying large quantities of the drug.

The changes have done little to stem the proliferation of home labs that produce meth, a potent stimulant that can be made with over-the-counter household products, often leaving behind a toxic mess.

According to the State Bureau of Investigation, law enforcement has busted a record 444 labs statewide so far this year – 100 more than the previous record, set in 2011. Wilkes County, in the mountains in the northwest part of the state, has had the most busts this year at 58, followed by Wayne County in the east at 27.

"We're seeing more fires, more explosions and more injuries because of this," said Van Shaw, who oversees the SBI's clandestine meth lab unit. "That gives you an idea of how simple it is, how readily available the products are and the fact that it's very mobile."

Oregon and Mississippi have already passed laws making Sudafed and other drugs containing pseudoephedrine available only by prescription. In Mississippi, the number of meth labs busted dropped from 200 last year to five this year, officials said.

Sudafed, pseudoephedrine Congested consumers could suffer because of meth lab proliferation

Local shopper Narda Redman said she worries about the inconvenience and the cost of getting health care providers involved in cold remedies.

"If you don't have health insurance and you can't get it over the counter, then what are you going to do?" Redman asked. "We're paying the price for people who are trying to get a fix."

Rep. Craig Horn, chairman of the House Select Committee on Methamphetamine Abuse, said the idea will be a tough sell in the General Assembly next year, but he argued that drastic measures are needed to combat meth labs.

"We can do something about it that may inconvenience a few people, and I'm sorry for that – I really am. But seat belts inconvenienced people, and they saved hundreds of thousands of lives," said Horn, R-Union. "Do we just have to have more dead bodies? Or are we going to do something when we know there's an action that works?"

In addition to requiring prescriptions, lawmakers also are expected to consider ideas such as new limits on the amount of Sudafed consumers can buy and tougher penalties for manufacturing meth when children are present.


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  • Brian Jenkins Dec 14, 2012

    Vinyl - how is it that you know so much about the price of meth? LOL
    December 14, 2012 10:34 a.m.
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    Ah jeez I dont know man. Maybe you can be educated on things that you,ve never tried or even seen? Is that possible?

  • heisenberg Dec 14, 2012

    Vinyl - how is it that you know so much about the price of meth? LOL

  • schoonie79 Dec 13, 2012

    "Do we just have to have more dead bodies? Or are we going to do something when we know there's an action that works?" -Rep. Horn

    Mr. Horn are you blind or just completely unaware of how things operate? More legislation and regulation won't fix the problem. If that was the case, there wouldn't be a war on drugs in the country. In answer to your question, the DOT requires several fatalities at an intersection before installing a traffic light so I guess we do need more bodies. Maybe the state should invest in drug rehab programs for those addicted to drugs. If you actually put them in jail and treat them while they're there, you may be surprised at the result.

  • Fiberguy Dec 13, 2012

    DEA Congressional testimony in 2007 indicated that around 80% of the meth used came from large laboratories, controlled mainly by Mexican drug cartels, leaving only 20% of the drug being produced by small-time cookers. The drug cartels almost certainly have access to a much better precursor chemical supply chain than obtaining pseudoephedrine at retail. Requiring prescriptions for cold meds would be highly ineffective in dealing with this issue, while wasting medical resources and irrationally intruding upon the lives of law-abiding citizens. No effect on problem, higher cost, and erosion of freedom - perfect political theater!

  • Brian Jenkins Dec 13, 2012

    We cant keep drugs out of our prisons so lets make society a prison. Great logic! Poor poor people. Its ok. We have laws against heroin too so you wont put a needle in your arm. The gov is here to save you!!

  • rachel Dec 13, 2012

    once again, the penalty for breaking the law, falls on those who don't. I am hardly going to pay my doctor a copay/office visit fee to buy an 8 tablet box of pseudophed because somebody somewhere knows how to make an illegal drug from it.

  • greymomma Dec 13, 2012

    Is the goal just to get rid of meth labs and stop people from buying pseudophed to make meth? In that case open up a government-owned Walter White style high tech methlab. Sell the meth for $1 a pound at the drug store right along side the pseudophedrine which sells for $4 for 12 tablets. Meth-heads buy their meth at the drug store cheap, no more profit in methlabs, they all go away. No more kids living in methlabs, no more people needing to commit crimes to get money to get meth, Darwinism will take the addicts out of the population, and most importantly all of us law abiding citizens can get relief for sinus congestion without waiting to get a doctors appointment.

  • Brian Jenkins Dec 13, 2012

    If we make hard like it need to be they want keep doing the same crime over and over.
    December 13, 2012 2:16 p.m.
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    Its called an addiction. No law or penalty will stop an addict. Good grief. I think you want meth illegal so you will stay away from it. You make it sound like you would be an addict without a law from the government.

  • dontstopnow Dec 13, 2012

    This is totally rediculous! Why make every human being suffering from a cold suffer for criminals that are being stupid. What the heck is happening to our world when criminals can make laws for law abiding citizens!

  • Brian Jenkins Dec 13, 2012

    One gram of meth runs about $100 in this area so it still is a profit to the person selling it.

    LOL where do you live? $100/gram? LOL