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Cold Medication Behind the Counter?

By: Lindsay Liepman
By: Lindsay Liepman

It may become harder to get common cold medicine, because of those who are abusing its use.

An epidemic across the state is causing law makers to take action.

It's common cold medicine to most of us. But it's a key ingredient for drug dealers who manufacture methanphetamine.

"It's a big problem," says Brazos County Sheriff Chris Kirk.

Sheriff Kirk says meth production and use is on the rise in rural communities in the Brazos Valley.

That's why stopping meth producers is one of the Texas Sheriff's Association's top priorities in this legislative session.

Sheriff Kirk has been the chairman of the legislative committee for the past six years.

"There are a number of ways you can actually make met but probably the easiest is to take a compound off the shelf and break it down," says Sheriff Kirk.

One law maker suggests making the sale of cold medicines, like Sudafed...strictly behind the pharmacist's counter.

A year old law in Oklahoma is already working. Meth lab production there is down 80 percent.

"Oklahoma has a very effective statute and what were seeing is spill-over in a lot of cases people just stealing them off the shelves and misusing them," says Sheriff Kirk.

Cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, which is used in producing meth would be pushed behind the counter.

But some pharmacists say that's a good idea anyway.

"I think it's a good idea," says Good Pharmacy Pharmacist Judi Henneke. "We usually have always kept it behind the counter just because of that reason, we felt that we needed to council our customers on it. Also, this will help us to monitor the number of boxes that customers will buy at a time."

Stricter records would be kept because a customer would be required to show I.D., sign their name and document how much cold medicine they are purchasing.

By law that amount couldn't be more than about 9 boxes in a month.

"As a pharmacist that is our number one responsibility. Whether it's over the counter or prescription to watch for anybody that could be suspicious and abuse medication," says Henneke.

Pharmacists and local law enforcement hope a new law will help do their jobs better by keeping one of the most dangerous drugs, off the streets.

House bill 164 is still being discussed in the house, but there are also eight other proposals pending with similar intent.


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