- - Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert’s recent op-ed on the methamphetamine problem in this country gave readers the wrong impression (“The fight against meth requires new technology now,” Web, July 11). Contrary to what he writes in the piece, progress is being made in stopping the illegal sale of cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine (PSE).

In order to prevent the illegal diversion of pseudoephedrine to methamphetamine manufacture, the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 implemented reasonable sales limits and required all pseudoephedrine-containing medicines be placed behind the counter, where purchasers show identification and sign a logbook before obtaining the product. This effort proved successful — at first, but law enforcement in the states with the largest concentration of meth labs soon learned that criminals were going to multiple stores to amass quantities beyond the federal daily and monthly gram limits.

To combat this new problem, 30 states now require retailers to utilize a real-time, stop-sale system that automatically blocks unlawful pseudoephedrine sales at the retail counter before they happen. The system, funded exclusively by manufacturers of PSE-containing medicines, also provides law enforcement with important information when a suspect attempts to buy multiple pseudoephedrine products. Taking the benefits of this stop-sale technology a step further, a number of states have adopted laws to block meth convicts from purchasing pseudoephedrine products, and we have already seen real results.

Collectively, these initiatives are having a real impact on meth labs across the country. Meth incidents in Oklahoma, for example, have declined by more than 50 percent since that state adopted these policies. Such measures have been successful across the country because they target criminals, not law-abiding consumers.

American families that rely on cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine for relief deserve more thoughtful consideration in what constitutes truly effective measures in our fight against domestic meth production. We hope Mr. Hastert will join us in advancing sound measures that attack the root causes of the meth problem.

SCOTT MELVILLE

President and chief executive officer

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association

Washington