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Oregon House Votes To Make Certain Cold Meds Available Without Prescription

The Oregon House voted Thursday to remove the requirement to have a prescription to buy certain medicines that some people use to treat allergy symptoms.

Spring brings flowers, which bring allergy symptoms for many Oregonians.
Credit Paul Lehman / KLCC
Spring brings flowers, which bring allergy symptoms for many Oregonians.

The bill would allow people to purchase drugs containing pseudoephedrine without first visiting a doctor. The medicine would still be kept behind a counter, and consumers would have to show ID and sign an electronic logbook. That’s meant to prevent people from stocking up in order to use the drug to manufacture meth. The electronic tracking system would connect with a similar tracking system in about three dozen other states. The amount of pseudoephedrine-containing drugs would be capped for any one person in a month.

Opponents, including Rep. Pam Marsh, D-Ashland, said removing the prescription requirement would open the door to more meth labs. “Even one more lab is a very bad thing for my community,” she said.

But supporters, including Rep. Bill Post, R-Keizer, said the measure has a safeguard to prevent runaway abuse. “If we do this, and meth labs come out of the woodwork again, in three years this goes away,”he said.

That's because the measure contains a sunset clause. Lawmakers in a future session would have the chance to extend or remove the sunset clause.

Oregon and Mississippi are the only states that require a prescription to buy pseudoephedrine. The bill now heads to the Oregon Senate.

Copyright 2019 KLCC

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”