House votes to restrict sale of cold medicines

By Bob Johnson

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, March 15 2012 4:06 p.m. MDT

MONTGOMERY, AL — The Alabama House passed a bill Thursday that would require certain cold medications that contain ingredients used to make methamphetamines only be sold in pharmacies.

The bill also would limit the amount of the medication that a person could buy. It did not go as far as some wanted and require a prescription for the medication that provides needed relief for some allergy sufferers. A bill requiring a prescription for those medications was also introduced this session, but the bill debated in the House on Thursday seems to have the best chance of securing final passage.

The bill by Rep. Blaine Galliher, R-Gadsden, would require that the medicines, such as the common cold medication Sudafed, only be sold in pharmacies. Now, in some instances, the medications can be sold in convenience stores and other locations.

Some have pushed the Legislature to adopt legislation that would only allow purchase of those types of medication with a prescription. But Galliher argued that would punish honest citizens who need the sinus-clearing medications. Galliher's legislation limits the amount of the medication that can be sold to seven and a half grams a month.

The bill now goes to the Senate for debate.

Galliher said he suffers serious allergy problems and understands the need some people have to buy Sudafed and similar medicines. But he also comes from an area of northeast Alabama with a serious meth problem and understands the need to control production of meth.

The bill also would make it a crime to have possession of the items needed to make meth.

Rep. Chad Fincher, R-Semmes, said he sees the problems in his district everyday created by meth and because of that he thinks Sudafed and similar medications should be available by prescription only.

Another legislator, Democrat Elaine Beech, a Chatom pharmacist, also spoke out for requiring a person to have a prescription to buy the medicine.

"I totally think it needs to be a prescription," Beech said.

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