- The Washington Times - Friday, September 9, 2005


Sales of over-the-counter cold remedies used to make methamphetamine would be restricted under a measure approved by the Senate yesterday.

The bill would require stores to sell Sudafed, Nyquil and other medicines only from behind the pharmacy counter.

Those medicines contain the ingredient pseudoephedrine, which can be extracted to manufacture the highly addictive drug that has wreaked havoc in communities across the country.

“It will very substantially reduce the number of local labs that are out there because it throttles the ability of the cooks to get the pseudoephedrine that they need to make the methamphetamine,” said Sen. Jim Talent, Missouri Republican, who co-sponsored the bill with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat.

Consumers would have to show a photo identification, sign a log and be limited to 7.5 grams — or about 250 30-milligram pills — in a 30-day period. Computer tracking would prevent customers from exceeding the limit at other stores, according to the bipartisan bill.

The Senate voted by unanimous consent to add the anti-meth measure to the massive Commerce, Justice and science appropriations bill, which is expected to pass the Senate next week.

The same appropriations bill has passed the House without the anti-meth measure attached. Mr. Talent said he is hopeful the anti-meth measure will be included in the final version of the legislation that emerges from a conference committee.

Retailers initially were reluctant to sign onto the bill, but as states across the country began passing their own laws restricting cold medicines, stores rallied to support a national approach. Many stores, including Target and Walgreen Co., already have voluntarily agreed to sell the products behind the pharmacy counter.

“This bill will put thousands of meth labs out of business across the country,” Mrs. Feinstein said.

The White House has not taken a public position on the Senate bill, a sore point with some lawmakers who have criticized Bush administration statements that marijuana still poses a larger drug problem.

Asked whether the administration has changed its stance, Mr. Talent said: “I’m not holding my breath waiting for anything. We’re going ahead with what we think we need to do on our end of Pennsylvania Avenue.”

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