NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Two state lawmakers on Thursday introduced legislation to establish a statewide, industry-funded electronic tracking system for purchases of cold and allergy medicine containing pseudoephedrine, an ingredient used to illegally manufacture methamphetamine.
The bill's sponsors, Republication Sen. Mae Beavers, of Mt. Juliet, and Republication Rep. Debra Maggart, of Hendersonville, believe it would stop attempts to ban over-the-counter sales of such medicines.
Such legislation has already been filed in the legislature, and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn said Wednesday he favors requiring prescriptions to buy cold and allergy products that contain the meth ingredient.
Beavers said their bill provides an alternative, less-intrusive solution.
“This kind of government intrusion in our lives is not the solution we need to attack the meth problem in Tennessee,” she said in a release. “We should not punish the tens of thousands of innocent Tennesseans who need this over-the-counter medication to get at the criminals who are using the drug illegally to produce meth when there is another approach which is very effective. Our legislation offers a proven, effective, non-governmental solution to the problem, without pushing up the cost of the medication on consumers by requiring them to visit a physician to obtain a prescription.”
Under the legislation, pharmacists would track purchases of the medicine electronically, so that they could refuse a sale that exceeds a customer's legal limit.
There is currently no mechanism in place in Tennessee to block illegal sales in real time, as many pharmacies and retailers rely on handwritten, paper logbooks to track purchases.
As a result, criminals have learned to circumvent the current system.
Should the bill become law, it would make Tennessee the 13th state to require such an e-tracking system. The system would be fully integrated into Tennessee pharmacy systems by January 1, 2012.
“For all law-abiding Tennesseans, the experience of buying cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine at the local pharmacy will not change,” Maggart said. “However, for those looking to purchase more than their legal limit, this system will immediately deny the sale, and law enforcement will possess a powerful tool to track down these individuals when they attempt to do so.”