Hoping to gain the few votes he needs, the sponsor of the bill that would require prescriptions for three popular decongestants said today that he will draft an amendment to exclude liquids and gelatin capsules from the bill, but doubts it will push the measure into law.
“I’m having one drafted to see if it would make a difference” to senators who might be wavering, said Sen. Tom Jensen, R-London. “But even if it passes in the Senate, the likelihood of it passing in the House before the end of the session would be very low. We’re running very short on time.” Only nine days remain in the session, and two of those are supposed to be reserved for consideration of any vetoes by the governor.
Senate Bill 45 would make pseudoephedrine, a key component in methamphetamine, available only by prescription. It would also apply to two other decongestants used in many cold medicines. A Senate committee approved the bill weeks ago but the full Senate has not voted on it because it lacks the votes to pass. Jensen said he thinks he is about two votes short.
Pseudoephedrine is more difficult to extract in gel or liquid forms, and less efficient in meth making, says Sgt. Stanley Salyards of the Louisville Metro Police and supervisor of its Clandestine Lab Team. “We’ve never seen a meth lab in Kentucky use gel caps or liquids,” he said, “And it’s much harder to do. I think it would definitely be worth it to get this bill passed.”
The drug industry, which is still running a heavy advertising campaign against the bill, opposed the compromise when it was suggested several days ago. A spokeswoman for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, citing information from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said pseudoephedrine is still easily extractible from gelcaps or liquids.
Salyards said the chemical can be extracted from liquids and gelcaps, but “You lose almost 60 percent of the pseudoephedrine when you’re extracting it,” and half the remainder is lost when the actual lab is cooking off. “It takes a heck of a lot more,” he said. “Right now, you can dump [pills] in there and you’re good to go.”
He acknowledged that meth makers could adapt to the use of liquids and gelcaps, but “If it becomes a problem, we go back and deal with it then.”