Cold Medications May Become More Difficult to Get in Maine

Cold medication may be harder to come by in Maine, due to the state’s rising methamphetamine problem. 

Rep. Janice Cooper (D-Yarmouth) is sponsoring a bill to require prescriptions for medications such as Sudafed and Claritin D. The active ingredient in those medications is pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient for making meth. 

“My fear is that [meth] is going to be the opiate epidemic,” said Rep. Cooper. 

She thinks restricting access to over-the-counter drugs like Sudafed will reduce the number of home-made meth labs in the state. 

In 2016, the Maine DEA responded to a record 126 meth-related incidents. The numbers have been steadily increasing since 2010. 

Meth labs are dangerous, and deadly if they explode. Just last week, a man in Old Town, Maine died from a meth lab explosion in his apartment. 

According to MDEA Director Roy McKinney, Maine has had more meth-related incidents than all other New England states combined. 

“Meth is highly addictive, it’s cheap, and readily available,” said Rep. Cooper, who testified in front of the Health and Human Services committee Wednesday. She brought in several house hold items, including a plastic bottle and a battery, to demonstrate how simple it is to manufacture meth with over-the-counter medications. 

“I don’t think this is a very wise use of time,” said Shana D’Andrea, a Sudafed user who testified against the bill. She said this law would require her to make time for a doctor’s appointment, and pay a co-pay to get quick relief from a cold. 

“That $12 box of Sudafed is now going to cost me $200,” she said. 

Other critics of the bill include the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a group that represents drug manufacturers. 

“This sort of blanket approach would penalize law abiding citizens for the actions of a very small few,” said Carlos Gutierrez, VP of state government relations for CHPA. 

But Rep. Cooper said getting a doctor’s prescription is a small inconvenience that could play a big role in preventing a “plague” in Maine.

A legislative committee is debating the bill, and could vote to pass it on to the full legislature. 

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