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Registered: 07/26/04
Posts: 13,985
New meth rules take effect in state's pharmacies [OR]
    #3737992 - 02/06/05 12:21 AM (13 years, 4 months ago)

New meth rules take effect in state's pharmacies
February 5, 2005
Oregon Live

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Oregonians who are feeling the sniffles come on as winter digs in can no longer make a quick trip to the pharmacy to grab a box of Sudafed.

That's because Sudafed and other cold medications contain pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient for cooking up methamphetamines, and the state has launched a plan to crack down on the drug.

Now, to buy those medicines, consumers must show picture identification. And soon pharmacists likely will be required to log customers' names, although it is not yet clear how that information will be used to fight meth.

Law enforcement officials say the new rules, even after three months, appear to be cutting down on the number of small meth labs.

In Oklahoma, the first state to enact restrictions on sales of pseudoephedrine last spring, the number of meth lab busts has declined from 100 a month in 2003 to about 20 per month since the law took effect, according to news reports.

More than 30 states are now considering similar rules or legislation, said Tom Holt, executive director of the Oregon State Pharmacy Association.

The restrictions likely will spell the end of pseudoephedrine products sold in solid form, Holt said. Liquid forms of pseudoephedrine remain unrestricted because criminals can't use those products to produce meth, police say.

Pseudoephedrine, which is used in products such as Sudafed, Sinufed and Actifed, is a decongestant that works by shrinking vessels in the nose, lungs and other mucus membranes.

Pharmacists said the new rule is more an inconvenience for consumers than it is for the stores. Overall, though, few consumers are complaining once they understand why the restriction is in place, pharmacists say.

The state Board of Pharmacy, at the urging of Gov. Ted Kulongoski, invoked the emergency rule restricting pseudoephedrine sales in November.

Methamphetamine is behind 85 percent of the state's property and identify theft crime, and is the most common reason Oregon children are taken from their parents and placed in long-term foster care, the governor said.

The board is working on a permanent rule to be adopted in May that likely will require all solid forms of pseudoephedrine to be sold by pharmacists, and limit sales to about three boxes per month.

Also under consideration are plans to collect the identities of those who purchase solid forms of pseudoephedrine, and enter the information into an electronic database.

"We want to make sure if pharmacies are going to be required to keep extensive records that care is taken that the information is actually in useful form and that it gets used," Holt said. "We don't want to collect information just for the sake of collecting information."

Lt. Craig Durbin, commander of the Oregon State Police drug enforcement section, said tracking pseudoephedrine sales with an electronic database would help curb the practice of "smurfing." That's when meth cooks move from store to store, buying or stealing small quantities of the product.

"If you put controls on pseudoephedrine and make it hard to get, you stop them from being able to cook meth," Durbin said. "It will significantly curtail the small ma and pa labs that are in this state."

About 80 percent of meth in Oregon comes from out of state, but law enforcement officials spend most of their time and resources going after the small operators that account for the other 20 percent, he said.

Last year, police uncovered more than 500 labs, and Durbin estimated that as many as 1,000 are operating at any one time, often in motels, apartments and automobiles.

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