Senate committee takes no action on bill aimed to curb meth prod - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Senate committee takes no action on bill aimed to curb meth production

(Source: MGN Online) (Source: MGN Online)

Lawmakers are now targeting certain medicines used to make meth with controversial legislation what could affect how you buy certain types of medicine at the drug store.

Pseudoephedrine is a common nasal decongestant used in several allergy medicines and is also a key ingredient used to make methamphetamine.

Lawmakers are now considering making the medicines that contain pseudoephedrine available by prescription only.

The move to make it prescription only makes it a little less convenient for those who use it to treat allergy symptoms.

"As a severe allergy sufferer, if this bill passes, that means more expense, more time at the pharmacy," said Sen. Kevin Johnson, D-Manning.

According to the State Law Enforcement Division, 89 percent of South Carolinians did not buy any form of pseudoephedrine last year.

"Let's stop the meth lab before it starts," said Lt. Max Dorsey with SLED. "We've seen a 400 percent increase in the past four years of meth labs."

Representatives supporting pharmaceutical companies say there are other ways to make sure the drug stays out of the hands of meth cooks.

"There are five states that currently require a prescription for individuals who've been convicted of a meth crime," said Carlos Gutierrez with the Consumer Health Care Products Association. "We like that approach where you're targeting criminals instead of law abiding citizens."

Close to 650 labs were destroyed in South Carolina last year.

Of the labs that were found, 171 children were rescued by law enforcement which is another reason victim advocates say the state needs to take action to help curb meth production.

"You might not see the impact until they're 12 or 13 years old when they have cognitive problems, health problems, mental issues that will rear their ugly head because a child's been exposed to this," said Laura Hudson with the SC Crime Victims Council.

Another portion of this proposal would also require those selling homes or vehicles once used as lab sites to disclose those details to potential buyers.

"It leaves a lot of residue and you have an unsuspecting public buying real estate, staying in motels, buying automobiles that are contaminated and we don't know what far reaching effects that it has on adults," Hudson said.

Currently, drugs containing Sudafed are kept behind the counter and you can only buy three per month with a valid ID.

Oregon and Mississippi have made the drug prescription only and they've both reported up to a 70 percent decrease in meth lab activity.

Senators did not take any action on this bill Thursday but it will be heard again in the coming weeks.

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