In most of the country, pseudoephedrine, found in popular cold medicines and a key ingredient in meth, is sold behind the counter, requiring customers to show ID and sign a log before purchase. Federal law mandated this in 2006, causing meth use to plummet around the country. In the last few years, though, there's been a steady rise again as meth cooks find new ways to adapt. Mostly they use multiple fake IDs, or groups go from store to store buying the legal limit and diverting it to make meth -- a practice called "smurfing."
Some states in the Midwest and the South are using electronic tracking systems at drug stores to block illegal sales. But several say it hasn't stopped smurfing or reduced meth lab seizures. Others, facing stiff opposition from the pharmaceutical lobby, are pushing to make pseudoephedrine a prescription drug, a step taken by just two states to date, with dramatic results. Currently, more than 40 states have adopted some kind of law restricting the sale of pseudoephedrine.
|Here's what's happening across the U.S.|
|States that have made all pseudoephedrine products, such as Sudafed-D and Claritin-D, a prescription-only drug, the strictest law to date. *||States that have introduced but failed to pass legislation making pseudoephedrine a prescription-only drug.||States with pending legislation to make pseudoephedrine a prescription-only drug.||States that have implemented or plan to implement an electronic tracking system, favored by the pharmaceutical industry, to monitor and potentially block purchases of pseudoephedrine.|
Note There are only 15 products (and their generic equivalents) on the U.S. market containing pseudoephedrine; all are sold behind the counter: See which ones they are and their manufacturers here (PDF)
Sources National Association of Boards of Pharmacy; Oregon Alliance for Drug Endangered Children; Briefing: United States Senate Anti-Meth Caucus; National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Office of National Drug Control Policy.