Mississippi may pass law requiring prescriptions for cold medicine - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Mississippi may pass law requiring prescriptions for cold medicine

JACKSON, MS (WDAM) - The next time you need cold medicine containing the decongestant pseudoephedrine, your first stop may now have to be your doctor, not your usual drug store.

"It's a small price to pay for a little better control of the ingredient that we need to have a better handle on, " said Forrest County Sheriff Billy McGee.

McGee joined a handful of other law enforcement officers at the state capitol this week supporting two bills which would make pseudoephedrine a schedule-three drug, requiring a prescription for anyone to get it. Anyone caught with it illegally would be facing a felony.

The regulations would be in effort to fight against the illegal production of methamphetamine. In Mississippi, in 2009 there were 981 meth arrests and 506 labs seized, according to the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.

"Without this particular ingredient, you can not make meth," said McGee. "You can substitute some of the other ingredients with different things, but without pseudoephedrine or phedrine, you can not make methamphetamine."

Stephen Simpson, commissioner of public safety, agrees.

"We have an epidemic problem," said Simpson. "It's a terribly addictive drug, destructive drug, and you can get everything at a Wal-Mart or a drug store."

While a state law already requires medications containing pseudoephedrine be kept behind the counter, McGee said that doesn't mean it is not easily available.

If a prescription is required, even Governor Haley Barbour said it would have a substantial impact in meth reduction, and the trade off is worth it.

"It is not too much of an inconvenience or big of a price to pay to make it a schedule prescription required drug," said Barbour.

McGee believes nothing will stop people from attempting to manufacture meth, but this would be a great deterrent.

The two bills, one from the House and the other from the Senate, have both passed in their committee and will now go up for debate.

Copyright 2009 WDAM. All rights reserved.

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