GREENEVILLE, Tenn. - There is a new bill being proposed that would require a doctor's prescription to get cold and allergy medication in Tennessee, but pharmacists worry it will hurt the citizens and not the criminals.
Pseudoephedrine is an ingredient found in common cold and allergy medication. It's also an ingredient used to make meth.
"We all know this is a problem. We all want to take care of it. But at the same time, I have a duty to take care of my patients," said Dr. Alan Corley, a pharmacist at Corley's Pharmacy in Greeneville.
A bill has been introduced by Republican Representative David Hawk of Greeneville that would require Tennessee patients get a prescription for medications containing pseudoephedrine. "You hate to be inconvenienced, but the cost to society that meth is creating in Tennessee is huge," he said. "The last thing we want to do is make law abiding citizen's lives more difficult."
Cost and convenience for patients is a major point of debate between law makers and pharmacists. "Instead of paying $5 for a box of pseudoephedrine, by the time you go to the doctors, it's going to take a lot more money and a lot more time," said Corley.
Hawk said one specification that could be included in the bill would allow pharmacists to write prescriptions to their patients for pseudoephedrine. "So you'd cut out the need to see a physician to have a script written," explained Hawk.
Corley agrees there needs to be a way to prevent pseudoephedrine abuse, but without punishing the patients. "I hate to penalize the majority of folks who need this drug on occasion for the folks who use it inappropriately," he said.
Especially in an area of the country with some of the worst allergy problems. "I think it puts an undue burden on patients. It's a good drug. It's the safety and most effective non-prescription drug we have to have to treat sinus and colds," said Corley.
Hawk said if the bill is passed, it could take more than a year to implement. Similar prescription-only pseudoephedrine bills have already passed in Mississippi and Oregon. Police said they have seen a reduction in the number of meth labs there.