FRANKFORT — An anti-meth bill that would require a prescription for most cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine took a serious blow Thursday when its sponsor withdrew it.
In a surprise move, Senate Majority Leader Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, removed Senate Bill 50 from consideration in the legislature but said the issue was not dead for this lawmaking session.
Stivers said he discussed the bill with some of its supporters, "and at this point in time, and the status of the bill, we felt it best to withdraw," but "that does not mean the fight won't go on."
Stivers said supporters of the legislation will look at alternatives next week. He declined to identify any of them.
"We hope to move with something that can have substantial support," he said.
Asked why he withdrew the bill, Stivers, an attorney, said, "You have to be pragmatic and practical about what you do. If I can do something about impeding the manufacturing of meth, I will take at least one bite of the apple this session."
Stivers acknowledged that a heavy advertising campaign against the bill had an impact.
The bill, initially sponsored by Sen. Tom Jensen, R-London, would require Kentuckians to get a prescription to buy cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine, an ingredient used to make meth.
Under the bill, Kentuckians could still purchase gel caps that contain pseudoephedrine without a prescription, since it's much more difficult to convert the medicine in a gel cap into meth.
Makers of remedies containing pseudoephedrine strongly oppose requiring a prescription for the products, which reportedly generate billions in sales annually in the United States.
The industry argues that requiring a prescription would create a hardship for legitimate consumers and that there are less intrusive ways to attack the problem.
It has waged a statewide radio and Internet ad campaign against the bill. It had "no official comment" on Stivers' withdrawal of the bill.