(KMOV) -- In an effort to combat meth manufacturing, Wildwood city leaders are considering a local ordinance that would require a prescription for medicines, containing pseudoephedrine.
Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant. It's also a key ingredient used to make meth. Drugs, containing pseudoephedrine, are already kept behind the counter at pharmacies in both Illinois and Missouri, but more and more cities are considering additional restrictions.
"Up until 1976, pseudoephedrine required a prescription. Believe it or not, we didn't have any meth labs prior to 1976 and we also didn't have anybody dying of a stuffy nose prior to 1976," said Sgt. Jason Grellner of the Missouri Narcotic Officers' Association. He works on the Franklin County Narcotics Enforcement Unit.
Washington, Missouri instituted the prescription requirement last year. Since than, Sgt. Grellner says the number of meth lab incidents has dropped off dramatically.
Sgt. Grellner is also pushing for a state law, requiring prescriptions. This year, the idea has the backing of the governor.
But, some pharmacists question whether it's necessary.
By the end of 2010, all pharmacies in Missouri were required to begin using an on-line database to track meth sales. Meth Check was paid for by the pharmaceutical industry and it lets pharmacists see whether a customer has bought more pseudoephedrine products than state law allows.
Illinois began using a similar system last year.
Under the new system, the pharmacist scans a customer's I.D., the product, and the customer's signature before completing a sale. If the customer bought more than 3.6 grams a day or about 9 grams a month at any other store in Missouri, the system flags the purchase and the pharmacist is required to stop the sale.
"We have just started this system, here in Missouri, in the beginning of the year . We don't even know how it's going to lay out after a year. So, I think to automatically change it now is doing a disservice to the public," said pharmacist Brett Williams of Williams Pharmacy in University City.
Some families may have difficulty seeing a doctor, paying for the visit, and obtaining a prescriptions for common cold and allergy remedies, he added.
Sgt. Grellner agreed that some families may be inconvenienced, "That inconvenience has to be weighed against all of the problems that come with methamphetamine labs. The largest problem is all of the children growing up in chemical waste dumps."
Oregon and Mississippi are the only states to require a prescription for products containing pseudoephedrine. Mississippi lawmakers passed the legislation last year. Oregon passed it's law in 2006. According to statistics provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Oregon only reported 12 meth lab incidents in 2009. Compared to 467 in 2004, 191 in 2005, and 51 in 2006.
See more statistics across the country, here: www.justice.gov/dea/concern/map_lab_seizures.html