Tag Archives: pseudoephedrine

TN bills becoming law July 1 include pseudoephedrine prescription limits, electrocution option

(Note: A list of all bills becoming law effective July 1 is available HERE on the Legislature’s website)

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A law limiting the purchase of cold and allergy medicines used to make illegal methamphetamine is among those taking effect Tuesday, as are statutes that require more disclosure from the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services and allow use of the electric chair to execute death row inmates.

The anti-meth law requires a prescription to obtain more than 28.8 grams of pseudoephedrine per year, which is the equivalent of about five months’ worth of the maximum dosage of medicines like Sudafed.

Gov. Bill Haslam and the Senate had earlier supported a version of the bill that would have set a 14.4-gram annual limit but ultimately agreed to the House plan featuring the looser restrictions.
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Report on TBI, county clerks’ meth offender database problems brings warning letter from Shipley

Rep. Tony Shipley, chairman of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, has written a letter to court clerks in all 95 counties and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation urging they abide by a state law requiring information on convicted meth offenders be placed in a database, reports WTVF-TV.

The station says some county clerks have never sent the names of meth offenders to the TBI and the TBI, as a result, never put their names on the list – designed to block the offenders from buying pseudoephedrine. Further, it found 777 names of offenders who were reported to the TBI, but still didn’t have their names entered on the list.

“The wholesale disregard for this is shocking to me,” Shipley said.

…The county court clerk in Cannon County did not even know about the nine-year-old law until we asked her.

“Really I don’t remember that we were ever asked to send orders to them for meth convictions,” Lynne Foster said.

Cannon County has a large meth problem, but no one from the county is on the TBI’s Meth Offender Registry – which blocks convicts from buying pseudoephedrine.

“Maybe we didn’t do our job in notifying these people — well, that stops today,” Shipley said.

Shipley’s letter cited the state law and encouraged the TBI and all county clerks to follow the law.

“This is the last time we are going to ask,” the lawmaker added. “We’re asking with a feather. Next year, we will use blunt force trauma and do things like hold your highway funds.”

…(The station’s report) led to finger pointing between the TBI and the private company that is supposed to block purchases.

“If the TBI tells us to block a person, we block them,” said the vice president of Appriss.

Appriss is a private, for-profit company, paid by the drug companies to block inappropriate sales of pseudoephedrine.

The TBI responded, “We gave them 777 names. They’re the ones that allowed them to buy.”

The TBI now admits that the agency never sent driver’s license numbers of convicted offenders to Appriss as required by state law. They started sending the numbers immediately after our questions.

“I am somewhat bemused the TBI admits to making a mistake. You don’t hear that very often,” Shipley said.

He said that his letter puts everyone on notice.

“If you can’t comply with a simple request of the law, then we will supply the encouragement to comply,” Shipley said.

Kyle asks Haslam to veto a Haslam administration bill (pseudoephedrine limits)

News release from state Sen. Jim Kyle:
NASHVILLE – State Sen. Jim Kyle today urged Gov. Bill Haslam to veto legislation limiting the purchase of pseudoephedrine, arguing that the new law doesn’t go far enough to combat the problem.

“I do not believe that the limits set by this piece of legislation are strong enough to make a dent in the problem,” Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle said in a letter to the governor.

“This bill is not stringent enough to keep people from producing meth, especially in the ‘shake and bake’ laboratories for which there are weekly accounts of explosions and burns.”

The legislation sets a monthly limit on the purchase of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine of 5.76 grams per month, which equals approximately 48 pills. The limit in the legislation is far less stringent than Gov. Haslam and the Tennessee Department of Safety recommended in January of this year.

The legislation was transmitted to the governor May 5, meaning it needs his signature by May 14 to become law.

Note: It’s HB1574, introduced as a Haslam administration bill with the push for passage led by Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons. The House expanded the limits for non-prescription sales and the Senate, which had originally back the Haslam version, retreated. Haslam has said he is comfortable with the compromise. In other words, it’s pretty doubtful that the Republican governor will heed the Democratic leader’s request.

House approves pseudoephedrine bill at odds with pending Senate version

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A watered-down version of Gov. Bill Haslam’s anti-meth legislation has been approved by the House.

The measure was approved 80-17 on Wednesday, and is significantly different than the Senate version.

The House bill would set an annual cap of 150 days’ worth of allergy and cold medicines like Sudafed that could be bought without a prescription.

Haslam’s original proposal would have established a monthly limit of 2.4 grams of pseudoephedrine, or a 10-day maximum dose, before requiring a pharmacist to authorize another 10 days’ worth before getting a doctor’s prescription.

Facing resistance over that measure, the governor later removed the pharmacist element, and instead proposed a 4.8-gram month maximum and an annual cap of 14.4 grams. That proposal was adopted in the Senate. The House version sets a 5.8 gram monthly cap and annual limit of 28.8 grams.

Further, from The Chattanooga TFP:

What passed the House today reflected a compromise between Haslam, who advocated a tougher approach, and a group of House members who wanted looser limits, saying they wanted to protect law-abiding constituents with allergies.

Efforts on the floor to amend the bill by putting Haslam’s original proposal back into the bill failed on a 58-37 vote. Many lawmakers oppose any restrictions.

Under the House-passed bill, consumers would be limited to purchasing no more than 5.76 grams or about 48 tablets of pseudoephedrine-based products every 30 days. The annual limit is 28.8 grams per year.

Anything beyond that would require a doctor’s prescription.

Senators are more in tune with Haslam’s original proposal. Their bill calls for 40 tablets of pseudoephedrine a month or 4.8 grams and 120 tablets or 14.4 grams a year.

Law enforcement officials want even tougher approaches. But powerful drug manufacturers have heavily lobbied against the bill and have run ads attacking limits.

If senators pass their own version and both sides refuse to retreat, the measure could end up in a House and Senate conference committee.

Drug companies spending millions to lobby TN legislature

Drug companies have spent at least $5.9 million — and perhaps as much as $15.2 million — lobbying the Tennessee legislature the past five years, more than doubling the financial firepower of police groups and their allies, reports Chas Sisk.

More than 100 professional lobbyists have been hired since 2009 to press the cases of pharmaceutical makers and their suppliers. Their influence has helped stop legislation that would restrict sales of pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in methamphetamine manufacturing.

Drug companies also have contributed at least $637,600 to lawmakers’ campaigns, over and above the millions spent on lobbyists. These donations have placed the drug industry among the top givers to legislative campaigns.

The interests of drug companies are wide-ranging. But a spokeswoman for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, which has lobbied the General Assembly and represents many pharmaceutical companies that also have done so, said pseudoephedrine regulation has been among their top issues over the past five years.

…Hard figures on lobbying are difficult to come by in Tennessee. State law requires companies and organizations that hire lobbyists only to report their spending with ranges, not exact dollars. But a Tennessean analysis of lobbying records has found that 35 pharmaceutical companies, two of their major suppliers and three trade associations have hired 107 individual lobbyists since 2009. These companies have spent between $5.9 million and $15.2 million.

And those figures may not include spending that does not relate directly to contacting state lawmakers, such as public relations and lobbying local officials.

By comparison, law enforcement groups, organizations representing local governments and others have spent between $2.8 million and $6 million. Records show this broad coalition has hired only 23 lobbyists, often to work on issues unrelated to methamphetamine production.

The mismatch in resources has been a factor in keeping more restrictions on pseudoephedrine at bay.

“I would say they certainly have had an impact,” said Martin Police Chief David Moore, president of the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police. “Certainly, we don’t have PR firms working for us.”

Haslam bows to law enforcement coalition, will amend meth bill

The Tennessee Public Safety coalition, a group of law enforcement officers and district attorneys general, has agreed to back Gov Haslam’s pseudoephedrine bill after he agreed to amend it, reports the Johnson City Press.

While the coalition would rather see an all-out prescription-only law for pseudoephedrine purchases — much like Oregon and Mississippi have implemented, which the coalition says has virtually eliminated meth labs — it’s lending support for Haslam’s proposal after he agreed to an amendment.

“His bill, the way it’s written (without the amendment) is 2.4 grams in an initial purchase, 4.8 grams on an override by a pharmacist, per month, which gives you 57.6 grams a year,” (Knoxville Police Chief David) Rausch said. “That’s higher than any other state has done it. We sat down and said we felt like it needed to have a stronger limit. As a result, the governor came back and has an amendment. We support that amendment.

“He has offered up an amendment which we support. That amendment is 4.8 grams, or roughly 20 doses, as a monthly limit and an annual limit of 14.4 grams. He did away with the override.”

After a consumer in Tennessee reaches the limit -— either in a month or in a year — he or she must obtain a doctor’s prescription to get more pseudoephedrine.

Opponents of limiting pseudoephedrine purchases say the bill will place an undue burden on honest citizens who get sick. Rausch and other supporters of the bill say there are “hundreds of other medications” available to treat cold symptoms.

“If you read the label of pseudoephedrine products, it tells you if you’re still sick when you finish the box that you need to go to the doctor,” Rausch said.

AP story on Haslam’s pseudoephedrine plans

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday proposed legislation that would require a prescription to obtain more than a 20-day supply of cold medicines used to make methamphetamine.

The Republican governor said the bill is meant to target illegal drug production with medicines such as Sudafed, which contain pseudoephedrine, while also maintaining access for people who need it.

“You’ve got to remember that 97 percent of people buying pseudoephedrine are buying it for legitimate reasons,” Haslam said. “They’re out there with real cold and sinus problems.”

Under the governor’s plan, people could buy up to 2.4 grams each month of products used to make meth. That’s about 10 days’ worth of the maximum dose. Pharmacists could allow another 10 days’ worth, but anyone needing any more would have to get a doctor’s prescription.

The monthly amount of cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine that could be purchased without a prescription under Haslam’s proposal is the equivalent to the average annual total purchased by Tennesseans.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a pharmaceutical industry group, said it opposes what it called “severe restrictions” on cold and allergy medications.
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Haslam pitches compromise on pseudoephedrine sales

News release from Gov. Bill Haslam’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced legislation to reduce the growing problem of methamphetamine production in Tennessee. The goal of the Tennessee Anti-Meth Production (TAMP) Act is to limit access to pseudoephedrine or ephedrine products to those who are using it illegally while not overburdening law-abiding Tennesseans who need temporary cold and sinus relief.

Haslam joined legislators, members of the Public Safety Subcabinet and key stakeholders to announce his proposal, which aligns commonly purchased amounts of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine with 30-day limits.

“Meth production is dangerous, threatens the safety of Tennesseans and destroys families,” Haslam said. “This bill is aimed at fighting the production of meth while balancing access to effective medicines for the majority of Tennesseans who use them in the right way.

“We are targeting the so-called ‘smurfers’ who buy from a variety of stores in small quantities until they have enough to manufacture meth. This proposal will not affect most people who use these products normally.”
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TN’s 2012 pseudoephedrine law working? Comptroller not sure

The state comptroller’s office has issued a new report, as mandated by the Legislature, on the effectiveness of a state law setting up a system (NPLEx) designed to curb sales of cold medications that can be used in making meth – without requiring that such sales be by prescription only.

The results in a word, to quote a press release (reproduced below): “inconclusive.”

The full report (in pdf) is HERE. Excerpt of the “key points:”

 The illicit production of methamphetamine (meth) remains a serious public health, safety, and fiscal issue in Tennessee.

 Meth production in Tennessee remains at high levels. Between 2008 and 2012, Tennessee and Missouri reported the two highest numbers of meth lab incidents in the nation.

 In 2013, a number of Tennessee local governments considered, and 18 have passed, local ordinances to require a healthcare provider prescription to purchase meth pharmacy precursors – primarily the nasal decongestant pseudoephedrine – at pharmacies within their jurisdictions. In December 2013, the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office issued an opinion, which holds that the ordinances violate state law.

 The impact of precursor control policies is inconclusive. Analysis of meth lab incident data and precursor control policies by state does not show a conclusive relationship between specific precursor control policies and the number of reported meth lab incidents. Isolating the impact of a particular precursor control policy is more difficult as states continue to increase the number of precursor control policies in effect.

 There does not appear to be a consistent trend in meth lab incidents between 2010 and 2012 among high meth production states with electronic tracking.

 The number of meth lab incidents in Tennessee since the implementation of the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) in January 2012 has not decreased substantially and remains at high levels. (NPLEx is a real-time, stop-sale meth pharmacy precursor electronic tracking system. It is employed statewide in 29 states including Tennessee and in some pharmacies in other states.)

 Pharmacy precursor purchases in Tennessee for the first three quarters of 2013 were 10 percent lower compared to 2012. Estimated sales declined about two percent from 2011 to 2012 following the implementation of NPLEx. Blocked purchases as a percentage of all purchase attempts remained low – two percent in 2012.

 For the two states with prescription-only statutes, meth lab incidents in 2012 in Oregon remained at low levels and in Mississippi continued to decline. Meth lab incidents in some other nearby states have followed similar trends.

 As of July 2013, 70 local jurisdictions in 26 Missouri counties had passed prescription-only ordinances.

Most ordinances were in effect by the end of 2011. The number of statewide lab incidents in Missouri remained at about 2,000 per year from 2010 through 2012. The number of reported meth lab incidents decreased in 16 of the 26 counties and increased or remained about the same in the remaining 10.

Rigorous statistical studies of the effectiveness of Missouri’s local ordinances are not currently available.

 Sufficient data is not yet available to assess the impact of local prescription-only ordinances in Tennessee. However, the Winchester Police Chief has noted a decline in meth lab incidents, as well as a decline in smurfing and associated crimes, since the municipal ordinances in Franklin County became effective in June 2013.

 Federal funding to support local meth enforcement and required lab cleanup remains uncertain.

 Two “meth-resistant” pseudoephedrine products – Nexafed and Zephrex-D – are now available in many pharmacies nationwide.
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AG says locals can’t mandate pseudoephedrine by prescription only

Cities and counties passing local ordinances to require a prescription for medications containing pseudoephedrine run afoul of existing state law, according to state Attorney General Bob Cooper in an opinion released today.

“Enactment by a Tennessee county or municipality of a local ordinance that prohibits the sale, delivery or distribution of over-the-counter products containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine without a valid prescription from a health care professional licensed in Tennessee would violate Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-431 (the “Meth-Free Tennessee Act of 2005,” as amended in 2011),” says the opinion released Monday.

“That section demonstrates the General Assembly’s intent to occupy the entire field of regulation of immediate methamphetamine precursors such as ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, so as to permit no local enactments,” says the opinion requested by Rep. Judd Matheny.

The full opinion is HERE.

Several local governments have enacted such ordinances, even though bills to require pseudoephedrine by prescription only have failed in the Legislature.

Here’s an AP story (basically rewriting a Chattanooga TFP story) written prior to release of the AG opinion:
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