Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Federal Anti-Meth Bill Moves to the Senate

An anti-methamphetamine bill that had languished for weeks in the Senate Judiciary Committee has moved to the full Senate, thanks to an amendment allowing states to continue to impose their own restrictions on cold medicine sales.

The Associated Press reported on July 28 that an amendment from Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) would allow states to adopt their own restrictions on retail sales of medicines containing pseudoephedrine as long as they were at least as restrictive as federal law. Inclusion of the amendment cleared the way for the Judiciary Committee's passage of the bill by voice vote.

"Today is a good day in the fight against methamphetamine," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), co-sponsor of the legislation with Sen. Jim Talent (R-Miss.). "We're one step closer to enacting a national meth bill that would put thousands of meth labs out of business."

Under the bill, retailers would have to sell products such as Pfizer Inc.'s Sudafed and Procter & Gamble Co.'s Nyquil, which meth producers can use to cook their drug, from behind a pharmacy counter. In order to buy the products, consumers would have to furnish a photo ID and sign a log. No more than 7.5 grams, about 250 30-milligram pills, could be purchased every 30 days. A computer system would cross-check individuals' purchases at multiple retailers.

The measure would take effect 90 days after its enactment for products in which pseudoephedrine is the only active ingredient. Under an amendment introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), restrictions for products in which pseudoephedrine is combined with other active ingredients would not take effect until Jan. 1, 2007.

While the Coburn amendment allowed the measure to get out of committee, it also could re-ignite opposition from retailers concerned about differing provisions on cold medicine sales from state to state. The Food Marketing Institute, representing grocery stores and other retailers, has argued that a uniform national regulation is essential to effective enforcement by retailers.


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