Lawmaker wants doctor’s prescription for cold medicine

Lawmaker wants doctor's prescription for cold medicine (Image 1)

A state lawmaker is planning to re-introduce a bill that would require a doctor's prescription for a lot of common cold or allergy products that contain pseudoephredrine, the main ingredient in Tennessee's lingering meth problem.

“The current system is not working,” Rep. David Hawk told Nashville's News 2 Thursday. “Law enforcement brought the bill to me and they have long thought that people should have a prescription to buy these products with pseudoephredrine.”

Hawk filed a similar bill two years ago, but withdrew it in favor of a new state tracking system for those purchasing the cold medicine or allergy products often used for meth production.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said in a statement from spokesperson Kristin Helm that “with 1,811 meth lab seizures statewide in 2012, the meth problem is as big now as it has ever been. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation remains supportive of legislation that would make pseudoephredrine available only by a prescription. Requiring a prescription for that key ingredient is the most effective way to combat the manufacturing of methamphetamine in Tennessee.”

Helm said that compares with 1,689 meth lab seizures in 2011.

On the other side of the issue, the Tennessee Pharmacists Association (TPA) said in a statement that read in part, “The legislation filed today by Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, punishes the vast majority of cold and allergy sufferers by making them go to the time and expense of obtaining a prescription from their physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner.”

The TPA urged to give the tracking system it backed “time to work.”

Hawk said he could not predict what kind of backing he might get from other lawmakers.

Heidi Schmidt, who was buying other medicine Thursday at Riverside Village Pharmacy in east Nashville, said she could see both sides of the issue, but acknowledged that prescriptions for most cold medicines would be an “inconvenience.”

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