Meth - Officials Don't Want to Be No. 1
St. Charles County joins a four-county effort to require prescriptions for cold medications containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. Missouri is rated the largest meth producing state in the nation.
Officials in St. Charles County and three surrounding counties will seek to require a prescription for sales of cold medications with ephedrine or pseudoephedrine.
Jefferson, Franklin and Lincoln counties also will seek to pass an identical law. Officials from all four counties joined together to announce the effort in a news conference Thursday afternoon at the St. Charles County Executive Building.
The law will be presented as a health issue. If it passes, it will affect all municipalities within each of the counties.
St. Charles County Council Chairman Joe Brazil, R-2nd District, said the bill will be introduced locally on Monday. He said six of seven St. Charles County Council members support the bill. Other county officials also said they have support on their commissions and councils.
Franklin County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Jason Grellner said a statewide law would mean Missouri would have to give up its title as the No. 1 meth producing state in the country.
“What happened in Oregon (after requiring prescriptions) is meth labs dropped 90 percent. It dropped 70 percent in Mississippi,” Grellner said.
No joy from asthmatics
Joy Krieger, executive director of the Asthma and Allergy Association of America St. Louis Chapter, said requiring prescriptions for the medication would increase costs.
“At the very least, you’ll have to go to the doctor and pay a copay,” she said. “Very few doctors will call in a prescription without seeing you.”
Krieger said ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are the drugs of choice when asthmatics have a cold.
“They can’t take antihistamines because they enlarge tissue membranes. Asthmatics already have issues with enlarged membranes blocking off their airways,” she said.
Grellner said pharmaceutical companies, which make about $1 billion a year off ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, are the ones against the prescription solution. He said they often fund asthma organizations.
He said most asthmatics could get a three-month supply of the drugs with a refillable prescription.
Officials said it’s little trouble compared to that faced by innocent victims of meth users. Those innocent victims include children, family and neighbors of meth users, they said.
“A good friend of mine lost her life in a fire that was due to a meth lab,” Jefferson County Councilwoman Terri Kreitler said. “She lived upstairs above it.”
Others ‘fall flat’
St. Charles County Sheriff Tom Neer said other approaches to solving the problem “have fallen flat on their faces.”
He said required electronic tracking hasn’t worked—in which customers must show a driver’s license to purchase the cold medication. Law agencies are alerted if meth producers buy just two boxes at different stores.
“The problem is, by the time investigators get the information, that meth is already out on the street,” Neer said.
Previously, Grellner said that meth producers simply get other people to buy the ephedrine or pseudoephedrine for them.
Grellner said drug users sell the cold medication at a 1,000-percent profit to producers to support their habit.
Silence from St. Louis
Brazil said St. Louis County and City of St. Louis officials were invited to join the effort, but he got no response. He said meth producers “will run to St. Louis County like cockroaches.”
However, Brazil said passing the ordinance serves a purpose.
“If this is just symbolic, then it still serves a purpose,” Brazil said. “It’s a statement to our state legislators that says, ‘Hey, we need a lifeline. Throw us a lifeline.’”
The state House of Representatives passed a bill that would have required prescriptions, but the state senate took no action.