OR may drop pseudoephedrine prescription requirement

House Bill 2128 would remove pseudoephedrine as a Schedule III drug under state law

Medicines containing pseudoephedrine are shown behind the counter at the pharmacy in a Meijer store in Roseville, Mich., Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2005. Beginning on Thursday, several cold and allergy pills were harder to get in Michigan, a move designed to combat the state's worsening methamphetamine problem. Under a new state law, only consumers above age 17 can buy Sudafed, Claritin-D and other products with ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. Adult customers are limited to two packages (48 tablets) per visit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A new bill would allow Oregonians to purchase pseudoephedrine (found in drugs like Sudafed) without a doctor’s prescription if it passes.

House Bill 2128 would remove pseudoephedrine as a Schedule III drug under state law.

In 2006, an Oregon law went into effect that required a prescription to purchase pseudoephedrine. This was done to combat the manufacture of methamphetamine.

While data shows the number of meth labs has decreased in Oregon, the decline actually started 2 years earlier when the state only required an identification card to get medicine like Sudafed, according to Steve Buckstein, founder of the Cascade Policy Institute.

“In 2004 when Oregon adopted [the ID] law, that’s when the meth lab incidents started dropping, and this is federal data,” said Buckstein. “When we made it so difficult to buy pseudoephedrine, over the counter or behind the counter in Oregon, basically it opened the door for the Mexican drug labs, drug cartels to take over that market.”

Federal data shows in 2015 the number of meth labs in Oregon was down 96% from 2005.

In Washington, residents can purchase drugs containing pseudoephedrine without a prescription, but they need to get it from a pharmacist and show identification. Other states have passed similar restrictions.

One of the bill’s chief sponsors is Rep. Bill Post, R-Keizer.

Post said his law won’t increase the production of meth and argued the current law actually hurts people that can’t afford Sudafed.

“People who can’t afford Sudafed, they’re paying the most,” said Post.

The representative said he didn’t see how the system could be abused.

“You can only get 2 packages. I guess if you have a family of 24, and you send everybody. I don’t know how you ever abuse this system because it has worked in every other state,” said Post.

Rob Bovett with the Association of Oregon Counties said the current law is working and asked, “Why change it?”

If it passes, the bill tasks the Oregon Board of Pharmacy to adopt rules for dispensing the drug by those registered to do so.

Read the full text of the legislation below.