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Council discusses banning over-the-counter drug

No legislation was presented or bill discussed, but the Farmington City Council did take up a new topic Monday evening which could have an effect on any citizen seeking relief from common cold symptoms.

Councilmen Darrel Holdman and Mark Kellogg raised the topic of possibly banning over-the-counter pseudophedrine sales in the city. Pseudoephedrine is a common man-made ingredient in cold and flu medications. It is also a primary ingredient in the production of illegal methamphetamine.

Kellogg brought it to the council’s attention that the city of Poplar Bluff, located in Butler County, had passed similar legislation recently — as had other communities in the state.

According to KFVS television in Cape Girardeau, in early December “the Poplar Bluff City Council approved an ordinance that makes pseudoephedrine available only by prescription. The ordinance passed by a vote of six to one after heated debate.”

As quoted in a report by the television station, “Several community members, including pharmacists, doctors and law enforcement officers brought their concerns to the board. Many folks were worried that it would take too long to get a prescription and the ordinance would create too much of a hassle if they have the sniffles. But doctors say there are several alternatives that will treat the same symptoms.”

Councilman Jeff Firehammer raised the issue of citizens seeking an alternative to a costly doctor’s visit and prescription to find relief from a common cold of flu symptoms. He said he wanted the topic explored fully before he could support such a bill.

According to the KFVS report, the community of Washington, Mo., saw a drop of meth-related arrests of 94 percent following passage of the over-the-counter pseudoephedrine ban.

Specifics of a Farmington ban on over-the-counter pseudoephedrine were not discussed. But Kellogg said it would be a great tool to help law enforcement here fight meth production.

At this point the non-prescription purchase of pseudoephedrine-containing medications is handled as such. The medications are usually kept behind the counter and anyone wishing to purchase the medication must sign a log and be limited in the number of boxes which can be bought at one time. Kellogg said the problem with the current way of operating is that the stores selling the medications have no way of communicating and comparing their purchase logs. So a meth maker can visit more than one store and collect a quantity of pills at any given time.

A law requiring a prescription for all pseudoephedrine medications failed to gain support and passage in the state legislature this past session.

As a debate on the topic began brewing at the council session Monday evening, Mayor Stuart “Mit” Landrum asked City Administrator Greg Beavers to do some research and contact some cities in the state which have enacted prohibiting legislation and then report back to the council.

The city council will meet next on Jan. 14 at 6:30 p.m. There was no talk of whether or not the pseudoephedrine topic would be raised at that meeting.

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