published Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Requiring prescriptions for pseudophedrine-based medicines violates state law, attorney general says

'PSEUDO' GOES PX-ONLY

The following Tennessee cities have passed an ordinance that makes cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine and its derivatives available only with a doctor's prescription:

Winchester

Decherd

Huntland

Estill Springs

Cowan

Pulaski

Monteagle

Tracy City

Altamont

Palmer

Coalmont

Decatur

Martin

Gleason

Dresden

Harriman

Lavergne

Spring City

Source: Winchester Police Department Chief Dennis Young

NASHVILLE - Tennessee cities and counties trying to rein in meth abuse by requiring prescriptions for medication containing pseudophedrine are violating state law, Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper says.

In his legal opinion, Cooper said "enactment by a Tennessee county or municipality of a local ordinance that prohibits the sale, delivery or distribution of over-the-counter products containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine without a valid prescription from a health care professional licensed in Tennessee would violate the “Meth-Free Tennessee Act of 2005" as it was amended in 2011."

Cooper says the section of law “demonstrates the General Assembly’s intent to occupy the entire field of regulation of immediate methamphetamine precursors such as ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, so as to permit no local enactments."

The opinion was requested by Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma.

More than a dozen Tennessee towns and cities have passed ordinances requiring a doctor's prescription to buy pseudophedrine-based cold medicines since June, following the lead of the tiny town of Huntland in Franklin County.

State Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, who authored the state's "real-time" psuedophedrine-tracking technology, said in a statement that she has "long maintained that local prescription-only measures run counter to the spirit of that law. Attorney General Cooper’s opinion demonstrates that these local ordinances do indeed run afoul of the law."

Beavers said "there is no question that there remains much work to be done to address the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine" and continues to look for "balanced solutions that target criminals, not law-abiding Tennesseans.”

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association, which has heavily lobbied against prescription-only approaches to Tennessee's meth epidemic, lauded Cooper's opinion.

"We have always maintained that a prescription mandate for pseudophedrine is a state issue. Local city and countywide mandates are not effective solutions to address the illegal purchase of pseudophdrine-containing medicines," the group said in a statement.

The CHPA added manufacturers "look foward to working with the Tennessee legislature to find effective solutions to the illegal sales of PSE."

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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