TN cities consider requiring prescriptions to limit meth labs - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

TN cities consider requiring prescriptions to limit meth labs

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ALTAMONT, GRUNDY COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - Pharmacies in Grundy County could soon require a prescription for a slew of cold medications.

Tennessee has not been able to pass legislation to restrict the sale of pseudoephedrine.

Now members of law enforcement are taking matters into their own hands, encouraging cities to pass an ordinance to require prescriptions in their communities.

Linda Roberts works at the only pharmacy in Altamont.

Under state law, it's the only place in town you can buy cold medications that contain pseudoephedrine, the primary ingredient used in the production of meth.

"When I first started there (21 years ago) it was seasonal," she explained. "in the spring you'd sell a box or two a week and it was the same way in the fall."

"Now you do 10 boxes because we regulate things," she said. "We sell as much as we can purchase, and it's just out of hand."

Last year there were 13 meth lab seizures in Grundy County.

Larger counties like Bradley and Hamilton saw many more.

Hamilton County recorded 85. Bradley County authorities confiscated 61.

In 2012 , 1,811 meth labs were discovered statewide.

"We are on track right now to have the dubious distinction of being number one in the nation," said Tommy Farmer, Director of the Tennessee Meth and Pharmaceutical Task Force.

A grassroots effort, led by Farmer and members of law enforcement, is hoping to change that.

"We have the power in our communities to change the law here," Franklin County Sheriff Tim Fuller told a group of Altamont residents Tuesday night.

Franklin County is soon to become the first county in the state to require prescriptions for pseudoephedrine-based medications.

Sheriff Fuller is hoping other communities will pass an ordinance to do the same.

He's taking his message on the road, meeting with citizens of small communities impacted by meth.

"It started her," said Farmer, explaining one of the first meth lab bust in Tennessee happened in Grundy County, "and I think these guys are on the way to making it stop here."

But not everyone is on board.

Some say a prescription mandate adds the inconvenience of a doctor's visit, co-pay, and may encourage doctor shopping.

Linda Roberts has no doubt the extra step will inconvenience her customers, but she says keeping meth out of Grundy County is worth it.

"I think a lot of it's going to have to start with the drug companies," she said, "and the government, the legislature, is going to have to say enough, but I think this is a good start."

Oregon and Mississippi are the only two states that require a prescription for pseudoephedrine-based cold medicines.

Tracy city, Monteagle, and Altamont leaders vowed to push an ordinance through in their communities.

They hope by passing local legislation, Tennessee legislators will reconsider a state-wide law.

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