The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved a measure that would arm law enforcement officials with additional tools to fight meth manufacturers while protecting citizens’ access to the medicines they need.
Senate Bill 1634, authored by Sen. Rick Brinkley, would limit over-the-counter purchases of pseudoephedrine, without making the substance available by prescription only. Under Brinkley’s proposal, pseudoephedrine purchases would be limited to 3.6 grams in a single day, and 7.2 grams per month - the recommended therapeutic dosage.
“I disagree with members of the Legislature who favor a bill to make pseudoephedrine available by prescription only, but I think we all agree we have to do something to fight the meth problem in this state,” said Brinkley, R-Tulsa. “My proposal is a way to arm law enforcement with resources while allowing law-abiding citizens the ability to get the medicines they need. Under this bill, consumers will still be able to do that without the burden and expense of a doctor’s visit.”
SB 1634 would also allow the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs to track pseudoephedrine purchases across state lines. 14,000 boxes of pseudoephedrine were bought in Kansas and Missouri by Oklahomans using their driver’s licenses, according to the agency. This tool would allow law enforcement to track where those purchases are being made and accurately target potential meth labs, Brinkley said.
Brinkley noted that if pseudoephedrine were to be made available by prescription only, it would result in an estimated $28 million increase in costs for insurance providers.
“That $28 million increase would be passed on to small business and consumers,” Brinkley said. “So they would not only be forced to go to the trouble of going to a doctor, but they would also be forced to pay higher insurance rates for a medication that has been available over the counter for 36 years.”
Senate Bill 1634 now advances to the full Senate for consideration.