Saturday, June 11, 2011

Ritze Questions City Restrictions on Allergy Medicines

State Rep. Mike Ritze plans to request the Office of the Attorney General to determine the legality of new restrictions on the sale of allergy medicines imposed by city governments.

Recently, the cities of Wagner and Holdenville have passed ordinances that prevent citizens from purchasing over-the-counter allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine without a prescription.

Similar legislation failed to become law this year at the Legislature.

Supporters allege the regulations will interfere with the manufacture of methamphetamine.

Ritze, a physician and surgeon with a Master's Degree in Forensic Science, questions that assumption.

“Like all Oklahomans, I recognize the problem created by meth production in our state,” said Ritze, a Broken Arrow Republican who is vice-chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety. “However laws to require a prescription of Sudafed-type products would not only create a potential huge cost to patients, but may also add to the already overburdened healthcare system. These restrictions will force the thousands of allergy sufferers in Oklahoma to clog doctors’ offices or, even worse, drive them to the emergency room for basic care.”

Ritze noted the state already tracks pseudoephedrine sales in real time and that the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics (OBN) has a computer system that keeps a record of every sale. That system is used to prosecute criminals who buy and re-sell pseudoephedrine to make meth.

Ritze said one possible solution is to restrict the production of pseudoephedrine in a format that reduces it to an inert compound that can be crushed and used for meth production, or lawmakers could disallow the sale of tablet forms of the drugs and only allow the sale of liquid forms.

“Requiring prescriptions for pseudoephedrine will not solve our meth problems,” Ritze continued. “Rather, we need to use the available tracking information to identify and find those who are consistently buying the limit to stop meth production.”

In his request to the Office of the Attorney General, Ritze will ask the following three questions:

Do municipalities, towns or cities have the authority under state law to adopt such an ordinance?
Do municipalities, towns or cities have the authority to enforce such ordinance?
Do municipalities, towns or cities have the authority to pass an ordinance to allow a particular drug that is presently prescription only no longer require a prescription?
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