Wherever you stood on the spectrum of pseudoephedrine regulation, there is little doubt now that a prescription requirement for the allergy drug is doing its job in helping to control the local manufacturing of the highly addictive and illegal drug methamphetamine.
Recent statistics released by the Missouri State Highway Patrol indicate that meth-related incidents have been cut nearly in half near the communities that have imposed a prescription requirement.
Anecdotally, pharmacists say they've seen fewer dodgy characters in their businesses purchasing the once over-the-counter medication.
This has come at a cost. Those who relied on the drug for allergy control now face significant inconvenience and often additional expense in attaining it. The restrictions on pseudoephedrine — a requirement for making meth — have not completely wiped out the meth problem. But it would be hard to argue that they haven't helped.
Whether the positives seen in reducing illegal drug activity outweigh the negatives experienced by legitimate pseudoephedrine users is still debatable, largely depending on your perspective.
The debate is likely to emerge at the state level, as the community-by-community control method has created a patchwork system that just pushes the problem down the road. A bill suggesting a statewide prescription law, however, was recently shot down in the Senate. New legislation that would lower the state's monthly and annual limits on the amount of pseudoephedrine a person can buy and require a doctor's prescription for felony drug offenders was introduced last month and has the backing of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association.
Methamphetamine is one of the nastiest, most addictive drugs our society has ever seen. This is not an issue that will go away any time soon. As law enforcement has seen time and again, drug abusers are constantly looking for ways to get around the laws and the system.
It will be important, albeit difficult, for law enforcement to stay ahead of the curve and use different methods to fight the meth epidemic.
Copyright Southeast Missourian. Distributed by The Associated Press.