FRANKFORT — The sponsor of a House bill that would require prescriptions for cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in methamphetamine, says supporters are not backing down, despite the withdrawal of a similar proposal in the Senate.
On Thursday, Sen. Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, withdrew Senate Bill 50 despite it passing out of the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month. Stivers said Thursday that supporters were still trying to find middle ground on a bill aimed at controlling homemade meth labs.
Rep. Linda Belcher, D-Shepherdsville, said Friday that she does not plan on withdrawing House Bill 79, which is similar to SB 50. Belcher's bill has not yet had a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.
Both Stivers and Belcher declined to say what a potential compromise proposal might entail.
"This is an issue that needs addressing," Belcher said of the state's meth labs.
The issue has been one of the most contentious and costly battles in Frankfort for the past two years. Most of the state's narcotics officers are backing the prescription effort, saying that Mississippi and Oregon have enacted similar laws and seen a dramatic decline in the number of meth labs.
The over-the-counter drug industry says those statistics are misleading and that meth addiction is still a problem in those states. The industry has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on automated calls and other advertisements. Those who support the bill have also started running ads.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said Friday that he is aware the bills' sponsors are working on a possible compromise.
"Obviously, if the Senate is not going to address it, it's meaningless to try to pass a bill like that over here," Stumbo said.
"I think there needs to be some attention focused on the issue," he said.
Stumbo said Friday that an attempt to limit cold medicines that contain pseudo ephedrine could wind up as part of other drug-control legislation, such as House Bill 4, a far-reaching bill that addresses pain pill addiction.
Those who oppose the measure say requiring law-abiding citizens to obtain a prescription for cold medicine will impose a hardship and unnecessary costs. Those who support the measure say there are more than 120 other cold medicines that don't contain pseudoephedrine that are just as effective.
Under SB 50 and HB 79, gel cap forms of cold medicines such as Advil Cold & Sinus would not require a prescription because it's harder to use that form of the drug in the meth-making process.