Legislation requiring consumers to obtain a prescription for cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine is the best way to crush illegal methamphetamine operations, which are reaching epidemic numbers in the Tulsa area, the state’s top drug enforcement officer told a legislative panel Thursday.
"The cornerstone is pseudoephedrine,” said Darrell Weaver, director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control. "We’re constantly battling folks who want this product.
"Until we continue to regulate pseudoephedrine, we’re still going to have problems.”
Two Tulsa legislators, Democratic Reps. Lucky Lamons and Jeannie McDaniel, sought the interim study to develop possible legislation for next year’s session.
Drug agents told the House Judiciary Committee about the increasing popularity in Tulsa of the shake-and-bake method. It requires only a few pills containing pseudoephedrine, a two-liter soda bottle and household chemicals. While easy to make, the process is volatile and can result in fires.
Mandy Hagan, director of state government relations for the Washington-based Consumer Healthcare Products Association, told the committee her group is against requiring a prescription for medications with pseudoephedrine.
The measure would have little effect on the trafficking of meth in the state, but it would force consumers suffering nasal congestion or allergies to spend more time in their doctors’ offices waiting to get a prescription, she said.
"The main concern is access ... for the legitimate consumer,” Hagan said.
Phil Woodward, executive director of the Oklahoma Pharmacists Association, said the state’s pharmacists are willing to continue to work with law enforcement on trying to prevent the illegal use of pseudoephedrine, but they are concerned about the effect a prescription mandate would have on consumers.
"We’ve got folks who need this for colds,” he said of pseudoephedrine. "It’s really the only decongestant out there that’s really effective for consumers.