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Press Releases > Limiting Access to Pseudoephedrine May Not Lead to Decreased Methamphetamine Abuse - March 20, 2014

Limiting Access to Pseudoephedrine May Not Lead to Decreased Methamphetamine Abuse - March 20, 2014

posted on 5:55 AM, June 26, 2014
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Research examining the impact of a 2006 Oregon law that requires a prescription to obtain
pseudoephedrine, a cold medication that is also a material used in the manufacture of
methamphetamine, finds that there has been limited overall impact. The research will be
presented at the American College of Medical Toxicology’s Annual Scientific Meeting to be
held in Phoenix, AZ from March 28-30, 2014.
 
Phoenix, Arizona (PRWEB) March 20, 2014 -- Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant medication that is also used
in the manufacture of the recreational drug methamphetamine. In the last ten years the sale of pseudoephedrine
has become increasingly regulated to prevent such diversion. In most states pseudoephedrine is only available
behind the pharmacy counter and limited quantities are sold to any customer. In 2006 Oregon became the first
state to enact a law to require a prescription to obtain pseudoephedrine.
 
Two medical toxicologists from Oregon Health and Science University, Jennifer Stephani MD and Robert
Hendrickson MD, have studied the impact of this law on potential indicators of methamphetamine use. They
will present their results at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Medical Toxicology
(ACMT) in March 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona.
 
Methamphetamine-related deaths in Oregon before and after the law was enacted were compared to those in
Washington, a state that does not require a pseudoephedrine prescription. The toxicologyresearchers found that
restricting pseudoephedrine availability to prescription-only was not associated with a decrease in
methamphetamine-related deaths, nor was there a significant effect on admission rates to rehabilitation centers
for methamphetamine abuse. The researchers also compared numbers of calls to the Oregon and Washington
poison centers. Only in recent years was a significant difference in call volume identified. According to Dr.
Hendrickson, “It is difficult to make solid conclusions as to the cause of this decrease. It may be related to the
pseudoephedrine prescription law, or there may be other variables affecting use and call volumes, such as drug
purity, price, or supply imported from other states.”
 
The researchers did find an association between prescription pseudoephedrine laws and reported
methamphetamine clandestine laboratory incidents. They looked at the number of laboratory incidents in
Oregon and Washington state reported by the DEA both before and after the 2006 Oregon law took effect. They
did the same for Mississippi, the only other state with a similar prescription pseudoephedrine law, and
compared results to five other states in the southeast. They found that the pseudoephedrine legislation was
associated with a significant reduction of methamphetamine laboratory incidents in both Oregon and
Mississippi when compared to neighboring states. Dr. Stephani comments “In the 2013 legislative session,
there were at least sixty-nine bills introduced in eighteen states that would require a prescription to obtain
pseudoephedrine. As more states consider similar legislation, it is important to understand the potential effect of
these laws on methamphetamine use. Taking these results together, it seems that decreasing access to
pseudoephedrine may limit local production of methamphetamine, but overall use may not be significantly
decreased because out-of-state suppliers step in to meet the demand.”
 
ACMT is a professional, nonprofit association of physicians with recognized expertise in medical toxicology.