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Burden of anti-meth legislation could fall on state senior citizens

John Michaelson Public News Service • Updated Feb 28, 2014 at 8:47 PM

The goal is to curb the production of methamphetamine in Tennessee, but concerns are being raised about the unintended impact that restricting sales of certain medicines will have on law-abiding consumers.

Gov. Bill Haslam has proposed limiting the purchase of cold and allergy products with ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, used to make meth. But doing so could unfairly burden many who need those medicines, especially senior citizens, said Debbie Pare, an AARP Tennessee executive council member.

“Transportation is a huge issue that is increasing as more and more seniors give up their driving and then now are depending on others to get them places,” she said. “With this bill requiring more frequent visits to the doctor’s office for prescriptions for these medications, it’s going to be a hardship.”

Pare said AARP of Tennessee does support targeted efforts to combat the state’s meth problem, but because of the potential negative effects on those who rely on over-the-counter medicines, it cannot support the psuedoephedrine plan in its current form.

“I think everybody realizes what the dilemma is and the impact that the meth production is having on every community in the state,” she said. “But is there maybe an option that won’t affect seniors negatively?”

Under the Tennessee Anti-Meth Production Act, the amount of pseudoephedrine-based medicines that a person could purchase over the counter would be cut in about half compared with what’s currently allowed under state law. Any purchases beyond that would require a prescription.

Information about Haslam’s proposal is online at news.tn.gov.

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