Manchester Considers Prescription Requirement for Cold Medicine

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MANCHESTER, MO (KTVI)–Manchester is the latest St. Louis area municipality to consider an ordinance requiring a prescription to buy cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine.  Pseudoephedrine is also a key ingredient in making meth.  But aldermen widely expected to vote Monday night on the issue, instead deferred action on a proposed ordinance.

The board’s Monday meeting turned into a debate over the issue.  

Franklin County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Jason Grellner, widely considered the area’s foremost expert on the subject of meth production and how to stop it, was in Manchester pushing for lawmakers to approve the legislation.  

“This is the heartland of meth labs,” he said in an interview prior to the meeting.  “You are standing in ground zero.  There are no greater amounts of meth labs in the world than in the Metropolitan St, Louis area.”  

Grellner cited numerous statistics before the board about successes in fighting meth for areas who enacted laws requiring prescriptions for pseudoephedrine.  He says the labs have been reduced by fifty percent and more in those municipalities.

“There’s nobody down there picketing the courthouses, going around the government centers with pitchforks and torches, wanting their pseudoephedrine back. They’re just very happy that they don’t have as many meth labs anymore.”

He also showed off a box of Zephrex-D, a new form of pseudoephedrine set to enter the market November 1st.  This variation cannot be turned into meth.  He says that availability eliminates any argument against restricting the type of pseudoephedrine meth makers are seeking.   

“There is no inconvenience anymore.  The inconvenience is to pharmaceutical industry who has made billions of dollars year after year off the backs of law enforcement, firefighters, and EMS personnel who have been fighting this for two decades.”

But aldermen in Manchester say they’ve been getting plenty of mail from constituents who don’t want the ordinance enacted.  

A lobbyist for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association was on hand at the meeting, making the argument that the ordinance is overkill. He says it inconveniences law abiding citizens and really just moves the problem, not solving it.

“Whenever you pass a law within your borders, whatever that law is, there’s always going to be something outside that border,” Jim Gwiner told the board.  “Whether it’s the Mississippi river crossing into Illinois or whatever that border happens to be.”  

He says a tracking system keeping people from buying too much of the drug is already in place and sufficient, something Gellner vehemently disagrees with.  

Area residents also worry about other unintended consequences.

“Have you factored the cost of a doctor’s visit for every person in the city of Manchester that has allergies that will be unable to obtain this drug or these drugs?” Terry Korpal asked board members.

A vote on the measure could come in two weeks.  

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