WASHINGTON -- Consumers are aware of the methamphetamine problem and are willing to make some sacrifices in access to pseudoephedrine cough and cold products, but not as many as some state laws are requiring.
This is according to results of a study commissioned by the Food Marketing Institute and National Consumers League, both based here, on consumers' views of sales restrictions on cold remedies containing pseudoephedrine, which is used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. Harris Interactive, Rochester, N.Y., conducted the study.
In a recent media teleconference, Tim Hammonds, FMI's president and chief executive officer, noted that the pseudoephedrine bought at retail goes into about 20% of the total meth production. "The remaining 80% comes from superlabs that obtain the ingredients in bulk," he said.
Even so, "retailers across the country are shocked and dismayed by this epidemic," he said.
The study found that consumers are more receptive to less-severe restrictions on sales, such as putting products behind a counter but not the pharmacy counter, and limiting the quantity of purchases. Restrictions would especially impact the ability of families with children to obtain needed medications, the study found.
From the food retailers' viewpoint, Hammonds added, "We think that because a lot of supermarkets operate across jurisdictions that there ought to be a uniform national solution for this."
Illegal diversion of over-the-counter product must be stopped, added Linda Golodner, president of the National Consumer League. "But let's not overly burden law-abiding consumers who just want to treat their cold symptoms and allergies," she said.
"The most important message from this survey, and from our struggle to overcome the meth problem, is this: Consumers and supermarkets alike want to be part of the solution," Hammonds said. "We want to help police limit the medicines used to produce meth. But we also want to find a common ground, find a solution that works for everyone."
This has to be a national solution, he stressed. "Piecemeal city, county and state laws only move the problem to nearby locales, which are then forced to react with little forethought," he said.