Archive for Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Restriction of sales not all bad

March 2, 2005

It seems Kansas politics is more interesting than usual this year.

Legislators in Topeka are considering a wide array of topics.

While the issues of school funding, as well as the evolution/creationism debate, are grabbing plenty of attention, there are other issues going on as well. One of these centers on the sale of a handful of common, over-the-counter medications.

On Feb. 17, the state Senate approved SB27, a bill designed to fight methamphetamine production by restricting access to over-the-counter cold and allergy medications that contain ephedrine or pseudoephedrine.

The Senate approved the bill because these ingredients -- ephedrine and pseudoephedrine -- are among ingredients used in the production of methamphetamine.

In an effort to curtail production of meth, SB 27 would dictate that medications containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine be kept behind a pharmacy counter. Those who purchase the medications would have to show identification and sign a log. And, only a limited quantity of the medications could be purchased at a time.

Opponents of this bill argue the proposed law would limit their access to the medications, particularly in towns that lack 24-hour pharmacies.

But in a twisted way, this is a bill that will give consumers more -- not less -- access to over-the-counter cold and allergy medications.

As an allergy sufferer who used to rely on over-the-counter meds such as Actifed, which contains pseudoephedrine, to control hay fever symptoms, I first realized, about four years ago, the frustration of going to the store to buy the allergy medication and finding the shelves empty.

When this happened repeatedly, I wondered why there was such a run on a common allergy medication. But then I read about the increasing number of meth labs, and learned there are ingredients in Actifed that are used in meth labs.

Frustrated by so seldom being able to find Actifed on store shelves, I eventually switched to a different type of allergy medicine -- one that works just as well and doesn't contain ingredients used in the production of meth.

For those who want to rely on the old standbys to help with cold and allergy symptoms, and want ready access to the medications when they're needed, it could be this bill is the way to ensure they're available.

After all, isn't being able to buy the medication you need -- even if it takes a little extra planning to shop when the pharmacy is open -- better than not being able to buy the medication at all.

Though this bill isn't getting the media attention of other issues pressing legislators, it would be a beneficial law for Kansans because it would make it more difficult for meth makers to obtain their ingredients. By the way, this is a public safety issue in another way, as well.

The new law would be named for the late Greenwood County sheriff, Matt Samuels, who on Jan. 19 was shot and killed at a home where authorities found an alleged meth lab.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.