Bill would make it tougher to get some medicines


A bill requiring a prescription to purchase anything containing psuedoephedrine will likely not advance beyond a Monday committee hearing, Sen. Josh Green says.

Green, a Kona Democrat, introduced SB 639, in part, to “light a fire” under the state Department of Health to keep moving on a program that tracks the purchase of cold medicines containing psuedoephedrine, a key ingredient for making illegal methamphetamine. The tracking program, passed into law by legislators last year, finally began in January, Green said.

“I’m continuing to keep my attention on any way to decrease methamphetamine in the state,” Green added. “At the moment, I’m satisfied (the tracking program is) helping us manage the problem.”

He said he expects he will defer the bill, which drew criticism from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, the Hawaii Food Industry Association and Legislative Information Services of Hawaii.

“Consider this: Both HMSA and Kaiser now have a $20 copay for a doctor visit,” wrote Richard Botti, president of Legislative Information Services of Hawaii, which represents 1,500 people in a group health plan. “Add another $10 in gasoline costs to get to the doctor. Add the $5 (prescription) fee, and you have $35, not counting the time lost in time to visit the doctor to get the prescription which can now be obtained with minimum inconvenience.”

Green said the measure may come back up for review again next year.

“As a health professional and a legislator, anytime I think we can reduce crystal methamphetamine in society, it’s worth it to consider any possibility,” he said.

He acknowledged statistics offered by testifiers that place 80 percent of meth in the United States as originating outside of the country.

“As a nation, it’s just important that we continue to be more vigilant,” Green said.