Combat Methamphetamine Act: Clears Senate Judiciary Committee

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday unanimously approved a bill that would limit access to common cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine, an ingredient that can be used to make the highly addictive drug methamphetamine.

The committee sent the bipartisan “Combat Meth Act of 2005” to the full Senate on a voice vote. A similar bill in the House of Representatives introduced by Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo has been referred to a subcommittee for consideration.

Flap had reported previously, Combat Methamphetamine Act: Senate Judiciary Committe to Hear Bill.

And the bill was stripped of language that would restrict the states from passing stricter measures to combat this scourage.

Drug makers and store chains had supported the bill in part because it would create a single, nationwide standard for cold medicine sales. But the bill’s chief sponsors, Sens. Jim Talent, R-Mo., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said they ultimately had to side with states that wanted to be tougher than the federal law.

“I respect businesses that feel they haven’t done anything wrong,” Talent said at a Capitol Hill news conference. “But there’s no other choice if we’re going to stop meth cooks.”

Thanks and Kudos to the Senate Judiciary Committee for not watering down this bill.

Talent and Feinstein said they hoped the full Senate could pass their bill shortly after Labor Day, and they said administration officials had expressed support. But the bill still could face stiff opposition from industry at any point in the process.

Mary Ann Wagner, a regulatory expert with the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, said her group had not yet taken a position on the revised bill but said that members were “initially very disappointed.”

Meanwhile, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, which represents manufacturers, definitely will oppose the amended bill, said Elizabeth Assey, a spokeswoman.

“We favor placing these products behind the counter,” she said. “We think that that is a better solution than requiring a doctor’s visit and a prescription for consumers who genuinely need these medicines.”

But Feinstein said she thought momentum was on her side. Rather than fight new restrictions on cold products containing pseudoephedrine, drug makers more likely would begin using substitutes that cannot be converted to meth.

Pfizer already has introduced Sudafed PE, which uses phenylephrine instead of pseudoephedrine. Phenylephrine cannot be converted to meth in home labs. Some retail chains also have asked manufacturers of their generic cold medicines to switch to phenylephrine.

“It’s a clear signal to the pharmaceutical industry to begin producing cold medicines without the precursor chemicals that can be easily removed from these pills and made into methamphetamine,” Feinstein said.

“I think the time has really come for the industry to listen and understand that there is a big problem out there from these cold medicines.”

Indeed and we will be watching the drug manufacturers for any lobbying attempt to change this Act. This could have been stopped a number of years ago if they had cooperated.

So, Flap asks them to take a look at the graphics above and below and ask themselves why they cannot supply cold medicines that do not lead to production of methamphetamine?

More later on bills in the House to combat international methamphetamine.

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