How Big Pharma Keeps Meth Labs Cooking

Lobbyists are battling attempts to legislate cold and allergy medicines

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 13, 2013 3:25 PM CDT | Updated Aug 17, 2013 7:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – It's pretty easy to make meth at home, and Big Pharma seems intent on keeping it that way, Mother Jones reports. The so-called "one pot" method of meth production relies on pseudoephedrine, a common ingredient in medicines like Sudafed and Claritin D. So two states—Oregon and Mississippi—made pseudoephedrine a harder-to-obtain prescription drug, and saw meth-lab numbers fall by 96% and 74%, respectively. But other states that tried passing a similar law ran into Big Pharma's lobbying juggernaut.

Legislators in two dozen states have tried passing bills since 2009, and were deluged by angry phone calls, ad campaigns, and robocalls to constituents. "They'll outspend us 100-to-1," says an Alabama state senator. Lobbyists argue that most US meth comes from Mexico, and Americans need easy access to medicine. True, but meth is cutting a scary path of addiction, burn victims, and ruined homes through America. Big Pharma's "pull in Congress is so strong," says an aide in Washington, that "every time we would schedule a meeting ... anybody who got wind of it would have a meeting with someone from the pharmaceutical industry. They got scared of it."

In this Sept. 2, 2010 file photo, Franklin County Detective Jason Grellner, center, sorts through evidence with a detective and an officer during a raid of a suspected meth house in Gerald, Mo.   (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)
This photo provided Jan. 10, 2012, by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department shows firefighters battling a blaze from a shake-and-bake meth lab explosion Jan. 29, 2010, at a house in Union, Mo.   (AP Photo/Franklin County Sheriff’s Department)
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