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Fighting Meth: No Rx Needed For a New Decongestant Coming to St. Louis

In an effort to fight meth, a prescription may soon be required in Manchester to purchase allergy drugs that contain pseudoephedrine. A new decongestant, Zethrex-D, will also be available and it will not require a prescription.

The City of Manchester is considering passing an ordinance that would require shoppers to have a prescription to purchase any medications that include pseudoephedrine, a key meth making ingredient.  

(Read Previous Story: Fighting Meth: Allergy Drugs Could Require Prescriptions in Manchester)

According to St. Louis area drug task force agents, there are 16 over the counter products right now that contain pseudoephedrine, including Claritin-D and Allegra-D. 

In Manchester and Town and Country, those drugs are currently behind the pharmacist's counter and an ID is required to buy them.

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Now, Manchester may make it harder to buy the drugs in an effort to fight methamphetamine by passing an ordinance similar to the ones passed by 70 other Missouri cities, including Eureka, Ellisville and Wildwood. Such an ordinance has also been passed by surrounding counties, including St. Charles, Franklin, Lincoln and Jefferson.

Sergeant Jason Grellner is president of the Missouri Narcotics Association and the Unit Commander of the Franklin County Narcotics Unit which works in conjunction with the St. Louis County Drug Task Force. Grellner is working on a state law to require a prescription for drugs containing pseudoephedrine, but until that passes the legislature and since St. Louis County has not passed a county-wide ordinance, Grellner tells Patch cities need to take matters into their own hands.

He said he's the heard opposition to the proposal of requiring a prescription. Opponents are concerned a prescription will make it too difficult for true allergy sufferers to get the medication they need. However, Grellner, who suffers from asthma as a result of busting meth labs, points out that a person's doctor should be aware if he or she is taking pseudoephedrine. He also said most of the outcry against requiring a prescription comes from organizations that receive money from pharmaceutical companies.

"Anybody who stands up there...and rallies against this, is obviously in it for the money," Grellner tells Patch. "This is a 1.2 billion dollar a year industry."  

He believes that pharmaceutical companies, and the organizations who receive money from them, are more concerned about the money they will lose if pseudoephedrine sales decrease. 

"The people they represent get money off the sale of pseudoephedrine and I would contend it's blood money," Grellner said. "And that money is made off the backs of the police officers, firefighters and children who have to be inside these meth labs."

However, a new decongestant coming to St. Louis pharmacies in November may be the best of both worlds, according to Grellner and the drug's maker, Highland Pharmaceuticals, which is based in Maryland Heights.

"In November we are introducing a meth-resistant pseudoephedrine product," Paul Hemings, with Highland Pharmaceuticals, told Manchester aldermen this week. "It's not the end all, be all. Our goal as a company is to end the illicit meth production while improving access to the decongestant people need most."

Grellner said people can then purchase pseudoephedrine containing drugs with a prescription or they can buy this new decongestant, that cannot be converted to meth, and it will not require a prescription.

"The new product Zethrex-D will be on multiple store shelves at the latest on November first and this is the product specifically formulated so it cannot be used to make meth," Greller said. "So it's a win, win."

Hemings said this is the closest thing to a solution so far when it comes to fighting meth while not taking away consumers' rights.

"If you enact your law, it's going to push the problem to the next county down or city down," Hemings explained to aldermen. "Meth is really, really bad. It is that simple. It's devastating what it's done to Missouri and our country as a whole. I think there's a solution out there and we can end it."

Grellner said this new drug also allows asthma and allergy suffers to get the drug they need without an prescription. 

As previously reported by Patch, Grellner is pushing for a state law that requires a prescription for pseudoephedrine so cities and counties don't have to pass these individual ordinances. He is now working to revise proposed House Bill 1952 and push it through the Missouri Legislature. The bill would not only make it a statewide law to require people to have a prescription to purchase pseudoephedrine products, but it would also allow an exemption for some newly developed allergy products, including Zethrex-D, that can't be made into meth.

The state law would be similar to the St. Charles County's ordinance which already has exemption language built into the law that says pseudoephedrine products require a prescription unless it can be demonstrated that the product cannot be converted to meth.

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Mike Budd October 11, 2012 at 06:20 PM
I see that the argumentation is again based on affect, playing with people's natural empathy for "police officers, firefighters and children". Sorry but for me the importance of a politician decision is based of the number of concerned persons and its global impact, including human, social, economical factors etc.. thus it is the responsibility of political representatives to see the global picture based on facts and figures, not only on emotions. This political debate remembers me of the controversy around the FDA ban of ephedrine in 2004: despite tens of medical studies from world famous organizations proving that this natural product was safe and effective and could help fighting obesity, finally affect and emotion won after Steve Bechler's death: people were convinced by the mainstream media that ephedrine was dangerous and consequently officials had an opportunity to prefer drug control to public health. I don't say that fighting drugs is not important, I just say that it should not justify poor decisions that have consequences on much more people. More information on this "dazzling display of hypocrisy" according to Times Magazine: http://ephedrinewheretobuy.com/ephedrine-where-to-buy-so-controversial

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