Oklahoma led the nation in placing restrictions on over-the-counter cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine. Now, 44 states have passed or are considering similar legislation aimed at keeping drug addicts from stocking up on cold pills in order to cook it into methamphetamine.

Federal legislation patterned after Oklahoma's law is also being considered. However, that may not be necessary as drug companies are rapidly responding to the restrictions by adding new lines of decongestants that use phenylephrine instead of pseudoephedrine. Phenylephrine has been on the market for years and can't be converted to meth.

USA Today reports drugmaker Pfizer has introduced a decongestant-only phenylephrine product, Sudafed PE, and plans other similar products next month. All lack pseudoephedrine and would be free from the restrictions placed by states.

Other companies are following in an attempt to balance consumer convenience while trying to stay a step ahead of criminals. The newspaper says $3.2 billion was spent on over-the-counter cough, allergy, sinus and flu medications with half of those sales from products containing pseudoephedrine.

State legislation is being credited for fewer home lab busts. Last year, 9,725 labs were shut down with Missouri, Arkansas and Tennessee leading the nation. As much as the U.S. tries to control the drug, it may only be making a dent in the market. Two-thirds of the meth still comes from "super labs" in Mexico.

This Week's Circulars

Recommended for you