Based on development of a proven new cold and allergy formula that can’t be used to manufacture meth, State Rep. Dave Schatz, Sullivan, said he will file a new bill to require a doctor’s prescription for other pseudoephedrine purchases statewide.
A similar bill filed by Schatz last session was not passed by the Legislature.
This time, given development of the new product, using the formula known as Tarex, Schatz said he “absolutely” believes his bill will be approved.
Schatz’s new prescription bill would exempt any formula that blocks 5 percent or less of pseudoephedrine from being extracted.
“This gives us the opportunity to take care of the concerns of opponents who argued that the prescription law impeded law-abiding people from getting the drug,” Schatz told The Missourian. “With that out of the way, I don’t know what the opposition would be.”
Detective Sgt. Jason Grellner, head of the Franklin County Narcotics Enforcement Unit, has been pushing for a statewide prescription law and has been working with pharmaceutical labs to come up with a pseudoephedrine formulation that could not be used to make meth.
Pseudoephedrine (PSE) is the vital ingredient necessary to make meth.
Grellner said he was in New York when he learned last week that the product developed by a Maryland Heights firm, Highland Pharmaceuticals, had passed all laboratory trials.
“When I got the news, I was jumping up and down like a schoolboy,” Grellner told The Missourian.
“I can see a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not a train,” remarked Grellner, who has been fighting the meth plague since prior to 1999.
Officials with Highland Pharmaceuticals said they’ve received verbal approval of the drug and expect final DEA approval in a short time. They said their product, which will be sold under the name Releva, should be on the shelves within 90 days.
Tarex (Releva) contains pseudoephedrine but in a form in which only a very tiny amount can be extracted to make meth. However, the efficacy of the drug is the same as products now on the market.
“Less than 1 to 1.5 percent can be directly extracted,” Grellner said. “We’ve got a lock for PSE. It 100 percent can’t be used in the one-pot meth lab method.”
The representative said he plans to file the bill the week of March 19 after the Legislature returns from spring break.
“I wanted to get with Jason and make sure the language is acceptable,” Schatz said.
“This will be a wonderful thing in the fight against the meth problem,” he remarked. “If it hadn’t been for Jason, this technology would not have been found. This is a direct result of Jason’s hard work.”
Grellner noted that two independent labs, the Franklin County task force and the DEA were unable to manufacture meth using Tarex.
“This will decimate meth labs and the illegal PSE market,” he remarked. “It gives consumers and patients access to pseudoephedrine while ending meth labs. The (pharmaceutical) industry no longer can hide behind the consumer access argument.
“The technology is there, but the big guys told us it couldn’t be done,” he said.
Grellner said the importation of PSE by pharmaceutical companies has doubled since 2005 and that sales of pseudoephedrine medicines was at $20 million last year.
However, he said statistics have shown that up to 95 percent of the product sold in the state is being diverted for meth production.
“What will the state do with all the money saved from not having to fight meth labs?” he asked.
In 2010, the costs associated with meth labs were: Cleanup of lab sites, $2.1 million; custodial care for children removed from meth lab homes, $3.4 million; incarceration, $17.6 million; and treatment, $8.3 million.
That does not include the cost of law enforcement, lost wages of offenders, uninsured medical bills, prosecution or defense associated with meth labs.