Over the Counter Medications Could Soon Require Prescriptions


WTVO/WQRF - Some over-the-counter drugs are used to make methamphetamine. Now, a new bill on the Senate floor could make it harder to buy allergy medicine.

The war against meth is ongoing and in Central Illinois, it's become a problem. Eyewitness News Reporter Anthony Antoine has the latest on how lawmakers hope to stop it.

Lawmakers want to make some popular nasal decongestants a controlled substance; drugs like Claritin-D and Allegra-D have pseudoeuphedrine. It's a  popular ingredient for producing meth.

The idea behind the bill is simple; control the purchase of these drugs and it could lead to fewer meth labs in the state. In 2009, the state started the National Precursor Log Exchange forcing pharmacies to keep track of those buying over-the-counter drugs which could be used on the streets.

"The person purchasing it must show an ID. We record that on the software and it's transmitted to a base in the state. That matches any other purchases that were made so the individual cannot make any large purchase."

Drugs like Claritin-D and Allegra-D have pseudoeuphedrine.

"They purchased that and, with other chemicals that they get over the market, they can make street amphetamines. There's a huge market for that."

In 2012, the state ranked fifth in the country for meth lab seizures and arrests. A new Senate bill wants to make it harder to produce meth. If it passes, you'll need a prescription to get nasal decongestants.

"It's kind of like supply and demand. If there's demand for it, there's going to be supply."

Jeffrey Evans is a rehab counselor at Carle Hospital.

"If people want the high and the experience and they can make it locally, then it's going to happen. I think it's kind of a punishment for the people who are law-abiding citizens who don't abuse it for the proper purpose of it."

Although Evans sees some flaws, he admits there could be an upside.

"It could have a positive impact on the availability of it."

One police officer says it could do more harm than good though. Authorities are given names of people who buy a lot of these drugs. They're then able to track them down and make arrests.

Since the precursor log went into effect, the state has blocked more than 100,000 boxes from being sold. That requirement led to more than 300 arrests and seized nearly 200 meth labs. If the drugs are prescribed, officers can no longer track who's buying it because of HIPPA laws.

Two states no longer rely on retailers to police sales. People in Oregon and Mississippi require doctor's prescriptions for any sales of pseudoephedrine. A spokesperson for Mississippi's drug task force says six months after it went into effect, the number of meth labs dropped by 70%.

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