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Oklahoma district attorneys support limits on pseudoephedrine

All 27 district attorneys in Oklahoma support legislation that would require prescriptions for decongestant drugs containing a key ingredient in producing methamphetamine.
BY MEGAN ROLLAND mrolland@opubco.com Published: February 21, 2012

Rep. Sue Tibbs, R-Tulsa, has a bill similar to David's that is scheduled to be heard in a House committee meeting Tuesday. David said although her bill is stalled for the time being, House Bill 2375 still can work its way through the legislative process.

Lobbying efforts

But David said they face an extremely powerful pharmaceutical lobby.

“I don't know what to say. They've got more money than I could ever hope to have, to lobby against this,” David said. “They're running TV ads and radio ads. I have been working this issue all year, and they've also been working against me all year.”

In Oklahoma and several other states considering limits on pseudoephedrine, the pharmaceutical lobby group the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., has launched the Stop Meth Not Meds campaign.

The organization also paid for a study conducted in Oklahoma by Economic Impact Group that showed the cost of the bill would be about $56 million to the state economy.

“You're seeing a full-court press from the pharmaceutical companies, and I believe nationwide there is millions of dollars on the table and they are more concerned with profit than they are about people's lives,” said Tim Harris, Tulsa County district attorney.

“They have all the money. We don't have any money for a PR campaign.”

In 2010 and 2011, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association and several drug companies spent about $1,100 on meals for lawmakers, according to reports from the Oklahoma Ethics Commission.

The district attorneys on Monday launched their own lobby effort for the bill going door to door at the Capitol to try and convince lawmakers of the necessity of these bills.

Gel caps vs. tablets

Gel and liquid capsules that contain pseudoephedrine cannot easily be cooked into methamphetamine. Mashburn said only the hard tablets need to be made prescription- only.

“Citizens we are asking you that when you have a cold or a runny nose that you be willing to take this pill instead of this pill,” Mashburn said, holding up a gel capsule and then a hard tablet.

And if you prefer the hard tablet, he asked that you be willing to call a doctor and get a prescription.

Both bills authored by Tibbs and David would only require prescriptions for the tablet form of the drugs.

The gel and liquid capsules still would be available over the counter.

Read HB 2375 Read SB 1276