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

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

December 10th, 2013 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News


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




Estill Springs




Tracy City










Spring City

Source: Winchester Police Department Chief Dennis Young

Attorney General Robert Cooper gestures during an interview.

Attorney General Robert Cooper gestures during an interview.

Photo by The Tennessean /Times Free Press.

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."