Lawmakers urged to require prescriptions to curb meth production

CARSON CITY -- Lawmakers saw gruesome pictures of disfigured addicts and an abused baby Monday during a presentation aimed at persuading them to make certain cold medications available by prescription only in order to curb production of methamphetamine.

Under Senate Bill 203 by Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, products containing pseudoephedrine and similar ingredients would require a prescription to thwart people who use fake IDs to buy the products and sell them to meth makers, a process called "smurfing."

The Senate Health and Human Services Commission heard testimony but did not vote on Leslie's bill.

Carson City District Attorney Neal Rombardo showed the horrific photos to demonstrate the impact of meth abuse on addicts and their families. Rombardo accused drug companies of seeking to block the law because they profit from pseudoephedrine that is sold into the black market and used for meth production.

"You don't want your child to go though what I see every day," Rombardo said. "This is public safety versus profit-makers. That's it."

Medicines with pseudoephedrine and similar ingredients currently are sold only in limited quantities from behind the counter at pharmacies and require buyers to sign a registry because of a law approved during the 2007 legislative session.

If passed, fewer than 10 medications would be affected, supporters of the bill said, and nearly 140 products that offer similar relief but don't contain ingredients that can be used in methamphetamine would remain on store shelves.

Opponents of the bill included the Consumer Health Care Products Association, a manufacturing trade group. The group cited figures that show methamphetamine production on the decline in the western United States and urged lawmakers to include Nevada in a purchase tracking system.

Contact Benjamin Spillman at or 702-477-3861.