WASHINGTON – The Senate unanimously approved a far-reaching bill Friday that would impose tight limits on the sale of cold remedies containing a key ingredient used to make methamphetamine.
The bill – opposed by some retailers and drug makers – passed as an amendment to a spending bill that funds federal science, justice and other programs. The House passed a different version of that bill earlier this year, without the meth provisions.
The proposal would limit access to Sudafed and other cold pills that contain pseudoephedrine, a primary ingredient in meth, by requiring retailers to put such products behind a pharmacy counter. Consumers would have to sign a log and show an ID to buy them, and sales information would be put into a database to help police track large purchases.
In addition to the pharmacy restriction, under the bill, consumers would only be able to buy 7.5 grams of pseudoephedrine products per month. The quantity of pseudoephedrine varies in different medications; for example, the limit would amount to two boxes per month of full-strength Sudafed, with 30 pills in each box.
States could enact tougher, but not weaker, measures under the legislation.
Backers acknowledged that the bill has to clear several hurdles, including winning approval from the Bush administration.
The Senate is expected to vote on the underlying spending bill next week. The measure will then go to a House-Senate conference.