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    Ark. Bill Targets Cold Medicines

    Common over-the-counter pills and capsules could become prescription-only.

    WASHINGTON, Ark. -- A trip to the local convenience store for Sudafed or Benadryl in Arkansas might first require a visit to the doctor?s office under a state bill that would require a prescription for the common medication ingredient pseudoephedrine.

    Law enforcement officials and pharmaceutical associations name pseudoephedrine as one of the chemicals used to cook methamphetamine, but they question whether stricter regulation of the drug would curb the growing addiction to what is commonly known as meth. "I don?t know whether making pseudoephedrine a prescription drug will help in the long run," Don Kidd, director of the Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute, told the Southwest Times (Ark.) Record.

    Arkansas State Rep. Marion Berry (D-Gillett) said he believes tighter regulation of pseudoephedrine would reduce methamphetamine production.

    The Nonprescription Drug Manufacturers Association, which represents manufacturers and distributors of over-the-counter medicines, estimates 80 percent of cough and cold medicines contain pseudoephedrine. The drug is an active ingredient in medicines like Sudafed, Actifed, Contac and Benadryl. Losing the ability to sell these products could be a blow to convenience store retailers. "Pseudoephedrine is in hundreds of products. All those would have to be prescription, and it would cause a severe hardship for the consumer and the retailer," said Kevin Kravshaar, association vice president and director. "It would cost consumers bundles because they would be forced to visit doctors for the drug."

    According to the Convenience Store News 2001 Industry Report, over-the-counter medicines generated sales of $344 million a year ago.

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