Our discussion earlier this week focused on how Tennessee police reported an annual record high of meth lab seizures and busts. According to preliminary numbers, police busted 2,095 meth manufacturing labs or setups across the state during 2010. The record high is reported at a time when lawmakers are considering requiring individuals to obtain a prescription for pseudoephedrine in order to purchase the nasal decongestant. However, manufacturers of the cold medicine suggest using real-time tracking systems instead.
Drugmakers argue that requiring consumers to obtain a prescription for pseudoephedrine would prohibit consumers from conveniently accessing a medication they may need, and could significantly impact sales of the drug. The Consumer Healthcare Products Association claims that the majority of pseudoephedrine sales are not used for manufacturing drugs.
A spokesperson for the association said, "What we are asking legislators to do is just consider a balance because there's really an appropriate point for allowing legitimate access for consumers." Drugmakers suggest using a real-time electronic tracking method. Currently, twelve states use the tracking system, which immediately notifies pharmacies and authorities of a suspicious buyer. The system also tracks purchases across state lines.
However, law enforcement is not convinced that a real-time tracking system would decrease the number of meth-related crimes. The current tracking laws have not hindered meth-related drug crimes; instead, meth manufacturers have developed other methods for obtaining pseudoephedrine and making meth in more convenient and smaller doses.
Currently, Tennessee requires individuals to present identification when purchasing pseudoephedrine. Federal law does not allow an individual to purchase more than 9 grams of the cold medicine within a 30-day period. In Tennessee, the drug can only be purchased at a pharmacy, and all pharmacies must log every sale and purchase of pseudoephedrine. But even with these tracking laws, Tennessee police still busted almost 2,100 meth labs last year.
Mississippi and Oregon are the only states that require a prescription for pseudoephedrine. After implementing the new state law, Mississippi saw a 76 percent decrease in meth lab busts. The director of the Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force likes these numbers, and he thinks Tennessee should seriously consider implementing the tighter restrictions into the state's law.
The Tennessean: "Drugmakers call for real-time tracking, not prescriptions, on cold meds," Tom Wilemon, 25 Jan. 2011
News channel 5: "Burn Doctor Talks About Record Year of Meth Lab Seizures," Brent Frazier, 19 Jan. 2011
The Associated Press: "2010 Is Largest Year For Meth Lab Busts in Tenn.," 17 Jan. 2011