Local option on pseudoephedrine prescriptions rejected by Oklahoma House panel
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
2/29/12 at 8:17 AM
Read the Tulsa World’s continuing coverage of the meth epidemic.
OKLAHOMA CITY - For the second time in eight days, a state legislative committee has rejected a proposal to restrict access to pseudoephedrine.
Without debate, the House Public Health Committee rejected a bill offered by Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, that would have allowed local governments to require prescriptions for the purchase of the popular allergy medicine that is a key ingredient in methamphetamine manufacturing. The bill failed on a 7-6 vote.
Last week, the same committee rejected a statewide prescription restriction.
Three local legislators who drew the wrath of Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris for their votes against the statewide bill voted against the local option Tuesday.
Reps. David Derby, R-Owasso; Ron Peters, R-Tulsa; and Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, all voted against the measure. Reps. Jadine Nollan, R-Sand Springs, and Jeannie McDaniel, D-Tulsa, voted for the measure.
Ritze, who is a physician, said his constituents and patients have overwhelmingly told him they oppose a prescription restriction.
Such a law punishes innocent cold and allergy sufferers, and the local-control version would also have the potential of punishing small local pharmacies to the benefit of big chain stores, which sometimes locate just outside city limits, he said.
Ritze said that although he is very concerned with the state's meth problem, that doesn't mean he's ready to back a bad policy.
"We have to come to a decision in this body to make sure we don't punish 99 percent of the people and make sure law enforcement has all the tools (they need) ... before we put in something that is overregulation," he said.
In a telephone interview, Harris said local restrictions are not the best answer to the meth problem but would be better than nothing.
He repeated his frustration with legislators' refusal to let the bill come to the consideration of the full House despite the endorsement of all of the state's district attorneys.
"I couldn't be more frustrated," Harris said.
Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, who also is a physician, voted for the proposal.
He said legislators who think local control is the best way to promote good government should have supported the measure.
"I feel like we have failed to protect the health of Oklahoma citizens in the area of drug addiction," Cox said.
With "methamphetamine, the social costs are just tremendous, not to mention the health costs, and we just continue to put our heads in the sand."
Original Print Headline: Drug restriction rejected again
Wayne Greene 918-581-8308
Rep. Mike Ritze: The lawmaker, who also is a physician, says his patients overwhelmingly oppose a prescription requirement for the decongestant.