Serious allergy sufferers may have more to fret about as Kentucky tightens it’s restrictions on certain allergy medications which can be used to make the illegal drug methamphetamine.
Ephedrine, of pseudoephedrine, is an ingredient found in over-the-counter medications used to treat allergy symptoms; but with a meth epidemic in full-swing, lawmakers have become concerned enough about the potential threats to public health and safety to lower the allowable limit of the substance which an individual can purchase.
Previously, one could buy cold and allergy medications containing up to 9 grams of the meth precursor per month, but as of Thursday, July 12, when Senate Bill 3 went into effect, that limit has been reduced to 7.2 grams per month, for a total of up to 24 grams per year.
The permissible amount one could purchase under this bill is about 5 regular boxes of 48 pills per month, or up to 16 boxes per year.
Gel caps and liquid medications containing pseudoephedrine, however, are excluded from the bill, and thus can be purchased without limitation because making methamphetamine from these is much more difficult.
If additional medication beyond the limit is necessary, one would need to see a physician to get a prescription for the medicine.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America released a statement opposing the bill because it “limits patient access to important [over-the-counter] medications and it will force thousands of Kentucky allergy patients to make frequent visits to their doctors to request special exceptions for these medications.”
The group feels that this will add “significant costs for patients including additional co-pays, fuel costs and lost wages due to time off from work.”
The AAFA does, however, support Kentucky’s recent efforts to quell meth production by introducing the meth offender registry, which allows law enforcement to better track repeat meth offenders.
“Because Kentucky has one of the worst meth problems in the United States, it’s critically important for elected leaders, law enforcement officials, retailers, and law-abiding consumers to work together to address the issue,” said Charlotte Collins, AAFA’s Vice President for Policy and Programs.
While this bill could be a potential headache for some who have very serious problems with allergy symptoms, as the AAFA suggests, legislators feel that it could, more importantly, make a significant impact on the amount of methamphetamine being made, sold and used in the state.
Meth is a dangerous, addictive drug that can be made in a variety of makeshift laboratories, and is found in abundance in Grayson County and across the state.
Ron Eckart, of the Hardin County Task Force, a unit which cleans up meth labs in Grayson and surrounding counties, said of the new bill, “It will definitely limit what they can get before they get blocked and shut out of the system. What they could get in three months, now they can only get in a year.”
While Eckart feels that the legislative measure has the potential to help somewhat with the meth problem, he said it won’t help as much as is needed, unfortunately.
The restrictions will “cause the people cooking [methamphetamines] to illicit more people to get pseudoephedrine for them,” Eckert explained, adding that meth manufacturers pay hefty sums or trade the finished product for the allergy medications needed to make the drug.
Eckart said, “Grayson County still has a lot of meth in it,” and encouraged anyone with information about a potential manufacturer or meth lab to contact his office at (270) 769-0694. Tips, of course, can be left anonymously.