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Saturday, March 03, 2012

Kentucky Senate Passes A "Watered Down" Version Of Methamphetamine Bill That's A Little "Easier To Swallow".

Kentucky Senate approves bill limiting purchases of cold pills with pseudoephedrine
Pseudoephedrine caps sought to fight meth

The Kentucky Senate has sent to the House a bill that would still allow consumers to purchase common over-the-counter cold and allergy medications with pseudoephedrine.
Written by Jessie Halladay

FRANKFORT, KY. — Allergy and cold suffers will still be able to buy over-the-counter medicines containing pseudoephedrine, but in more limited quantities under a bill the Senate passed Friday to curb methamphetamine production in Kentucky.

Senate Bill 3, approved 25-11 Friday morning, would allow consumers to buy up to 7.2 grams of medicine containing pseudoephedrine per month and up to 24 grams annually. Industry experts say that is the amount an allergy sufferer would need for daily doses.

A doctor’s prescription would be required to get as much as an additional 7.5 grams per month and 90 grams annually.

Gel caps and liquid forms of the drug, which cannot be easily converted to meth, will not be restricted. And the medicines will still require a signature at the pharmacy and will be tracked with an electronic-monitoring system.

The bill will now go to the House for consideration, where it is considered to have a good chance of passage.

The Senate bill passed Friday falls short of sponsor Sen. Robert Stivers’ desire to have a prescription-only law for medications containing pseudoephedrine.

“I still don’t think it’s the best situation,” Stivers said. “It’s what we could get passed. Let’s see what this does.”

Stivers, a Manchester Republican, said because of extensive lobbying efforts by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) and others who represent drug manufacturers, it was a struggle to get support for the prescription-only measure he originally proposed.

Both Stivers’ original bill and the version passed Friday would block some drug offenders from buying the medicines.

After withdrawing his prescription-only bill, Stivers proposed a bill that passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday that would have limited sales to 3.6 grams per month and 15 grams annually.

But Stivers said Thursday night that version did not have enough support, and Sen. Jerry Rhoads, D-Madisonville, filed an amendment that would increase the over-the-counter limit to 7.2 grams monthly and 24 grams annually.

That amendment was approved by the Senate Friday morning. And after much floor discussion, the entire bill was approved.

“It’s been a reasonable compromise,” said Rhoads, who has repeatedly expressed his concern over legitimate cold medicine users having enough of the drug, while still trying to slow down those who are buying the drug for making meth.

“The final result is a step in the right direction,” he said.

The bill will now go to the House for consideration.

But opposition to the measure continues.

The CHPA again reiterated its displeasure with the bill on Friday and urged members of the House to change it.

“We are disappointed with the outcome of the vote today on Senate Bill 3,” said Scott Melville, president and chief executive of CHPA in a statement. “CHPA is committed to working with legislators to win the battle against methamphetamine, but gaining the upper hand against meth producers and dealers does not require unnecessary restrictions imposed on many Kentucky families — particularly seasonal allergy sufferers — by burdening them with increased health-care costs, lost wages, and unnecessary trips to the doctor.”

Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, spoke against the bill on the Senate floor Friday and cast one of the 11 no votes.

“This is an imposition on the majority of Kentuckians,” she told the Senate. “In the Ohio Valley, we are known for our allergy season.”

Denton said that she would like to find a solution to the meth problem in Kentucky, but that she does not believe the current proposal will be effective.

Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, spoke passionately for the bill, saying that 90 percent of pseudoephedrine buyers in the state already buy within the limits of the bill.

“It’s a very minimal imposition compared to the good it will do,” Williams said. “I’m convinced that there will be lives saved.”

Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, said previously that House members have been following the progress of the Senate bill and he believes there is a chance it will pass that chamber as well.

Roll Call

Democrats for: (12) Blevins, Carroll, Jones, Neal, Palmer, Parrett, Pendleton, Rhoads, Ridley, Shaughnessy, Turner and Webb.
Democrats against: (2) Clark and Harper Angel
Republicans for: (12) Carpenter, Gibson, Givens, Harris, Higdon, Hornback, Jensen, McGaha, Smith, Stivers, Williams and Wilson.
Republicans against: (9) Bowen, Buford, Denton, Kerr, Schickel, Seum, Stine, Thayer and Westwood.
Independent for: (1) Leeper.
Not voting: (2) Stein and Winters.



Blogger Christie said...

You know you never know what or how much this will help but it can't hurt. Our drug problem is so huge and uncalled for. My husband had to go to a residential treatment facility because of methamphetamine. People just don't understand what an impact drug addiction puts on a family. Thank you to anyone that steps up to make a change.

11:32 AM  

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