For much of his time in the state Legislature, Rep. Bill Post (R-Keizer) has waged a war for allergy relief.
After three attempts to make the allergy relief medication pseudoephedrine available to state residents without a prescription, victory may finally be in sight.
“I feel good about its chances this time around,” Post said. “The bill passed out of the House with a vote of 54-4and the senators on the other side of the Legislature usually look at those votes as a scorecard when they are figuring out whether to support it."
House Bill (HB) would make the drug available to customers over the age of 18, with proper identification, and after recording some patient information. The medicine would still be kept behind the counter. However, Oregon residents wouldn’t have to travel to another state for allergy relief in more than 15 years.
Post tried to get a similar bill passed in 2017, but the effort never made it past the committee level, In 2019, another bill progressed to a Senate vote, but altered so much in the process that Post himself turned against it.
“It was what we call a ‘gut-and-stuff,’” Post said. “Patients would still have had to get a prescription for the drug from a pharmacist, which would have meant a private consultation in a separate room of the pharmacy.”
The drug’s status as a controlled substance would have made the extra step necessary and would likely have led to additional charges for service, Post said. He testified against the passage of the bill when the floor vote arrived.
This time around, the bill that Post envisioned from the start appears to be moving ahead. In no small part because he got buy-in before the matter reached the House Committee on Health Care. Post enlisted three other chief sponsors and 31 additional regular sponsors. Hoping not to jinx the bill’s chances, Post isn’t planning any celebrations just yet.
Oregon is the last state in the nation to require prescriptions for medication containing pseudoephedrine. Mississippi was the other holdout and it reversed course last month.
Oregon’s path to this point began in 2005 when the federal Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 was incorporated into the Patriot Act signed into law in 2006. The act imposed limitations on the amount of pseudoephedrine in a pill and instituted electronic tracking of purchases.
At the same time, Oregon was in the midst of a heightened methamphetamine crisis. Pseudoephedrine and other similar medications could be converted into methamphetamine though a dangerous chemical process.
To combat the number of methamphetamine labs cropping up in the state, Oregon lawmakers began requiring prescriptions for drugs that could be used to produce meth. While the effort curbed production in Oregon and other states, Mexican cartels picked up the slack with more potent and cheaper versions of the addictive drug.