Some seek changes to TN pseudoephedrine sales - WSMV Channel 4

Some seek changes to TN pseudoephedrine sales

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It's been a rough season for the sniffles and sneezes in Tennessee, and many people have turned to cold medications to help relieve the symptoms.

But law enforcement across the state is renewing efforts to make some of those medications prescription only, all in an effort to reduce Tennessee's big meth problem.

Tennessee is second in the nation in the number of meth lab seizures, and the month of January saw another 200 meth lab seizures.

For now, pharmacy customers who want to buy pseudoephedrine products like Sudafed have to show their driver's license, but law enforcement leaders say that hasn't diminished the meth problem and there's really only one thing left to try.

However, some lawmakers say it would come at a huge inconvenience to millions of law-abiding citizens.

"We're still drowning in this scourge of methamphetamine," said Mark Gwyn, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Leaders say laws on the books that require real-time tracking of pseudoephedrine sales have done little to solve the problem and have only created a cottage industry of people using stand-in buyers and fake IDs to obtain the drug.

They believe it's time to require a prescription for cold and allergy medications that contain pseudoephedrine.

"And I think there comes a time in the state when we've got to tell the pharmaceutical industry that you've made enough money at the peril of the citizens of the state of Tennessee," Gwyn said.

But not everyone is on board with the idea.

"It's kind of like using a chainsaw to take a splinter out of a finger," said State Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport.

The pharmaceutical industry says the change would come with a big cost for those who depend on the medications and contends that it wouldn't do anything to decrease the meth problem in Tennessee.

"We're concerned about the cost they would incur having to go to the doctor's office, take time off of work, pay a copay at the doctor's office and pay a copay at the pharmacist. So it's no longer about convenience, it's about actual cost," said Carlos Gutierrez, with the Consumer Healthcare Products Association.

Some lawmakers believe there can be a middle-ground solution by making an incremental change and limiting the amount of pseudoephedrine someone can get without a prescription.

They plan to have a task force work on a potential alternative, but many in the law enforcement community are adamant that the only thing that seems to work is to make all sales prescription-only.

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