Bill proposes prescriptions for cold medicines - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Bill proposes prescriptions for cold medicines

Hazmat crews clean up an Upstate meth lab. (File/FOX Carolina) Hazmat crews clean up an Upstate meth lab. (File/FOX Carolina)

Angie Steadman is a former meth addict who has turned her life around.

"Once I tried it, and got into it then it was very addictive. I was addicted immediately," Steadman said.

Users said the drug is easy to get and easy to make. They make meth by using pseudoephedrine, which is a decongestant found in cold medicine.

"I got caught up in a pretty heavy, heavy duty situation as a result of some of those things. As a result, I was involved with people that were involved with meth manufacture," Steadman said.

"I was doing things I would have never done in my right mind," Steadman said. "Then it got to the point where you could only buy two at a time."

And now to try and crack down on meth makers, Upstate Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, introduced a bill that would make all medicine with pseudoephedrine prescription only.

"It isn't the product, it's the chemicals the products combined with that can be extrapolated and used," Fair said.

Back in 2010, lawmakers passed a bill that put limits on how much pseudoephedrine can be bought by one person. Customers must show ID and their information is put into a database.

"According to leadership and law enforcement in South Carolina, it isn't working and we still have the problem," Fair said.

Fair said meth causes crime rates to go up.

"Anything that's illegal is right there with the drug addiction or the drug usage. The cleanup is very expensive. It costs the state approximately a million dollars a year," Fair said.

He said most importantly the drug ruins communities.

"The expense for the lives of families is the greatest expense," Fair said.

Right now, many pharmacists use the National Precursors Log Exchange System, or NPLEX.

"The thing that you cannot legislate is morality," Ken Rogers said.

Rogers owns Stone Plaza Pharmacy in Greenville and uses NPLEX at his store.

"It goes over all the different products that contain pseudoephedrine," Rogers said. "It just lets us know whether it's safe to sell or OK to sell that particular product to that particular patient."

Rogers said not all pharmacists have access to the Internet and don't use the system.

"So, they don't actually do that or maybe they track their sales at the end of the week," Rogers said.

Statistics show meth users get around the system by shop hopping and using fake IDs. The report shows meth lab incidents increased by 65 percent last year in the state. However, Carlos Gutierrez, senior director of State Government Affairs with the Consumer Health Care Products Association, said the NPLEX system blocks illegal sales each month.

"We are adamantly opposed to any attempt at changing the status of over the counter medicine," Gutierrez.

He also said customers don't want the added expense of a prescription.

"To the consumer, the costs are taking time off from work, going to the doctor, paying a co-pay for that doctor, then going to the pharmacy and paying a co-pay for that," Gutierrez.

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