This is dedicated to Travis Holappa who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered on July 25, 2004 in Northern Minnesota. This was all due to meth. I am Travis' mother and I wish to make this devastation turn into a better thing by educating and exposing the truth about meth, the dangers, and the deadly consequences it brings about to individuals and communities.

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Location: Colorado, United States

I want to do what I can to educate people about what is going on around the world with the meth problem. I want people to know about it BEFORE they even get the idea to want to try it. It is a dangerous drug and will ruin your life as well as all those who love you. I am on a mission on behalf of my only son, Travis.

Monday, May 01, 2006

New limits on cold pills vex buyers (New York)

(Original Publication: April 30, 2006)

Rules are in 2 steps

• As of April 8, no more than 3.6 grams of pseudoephedrine, ephedrine or phenylpropanolamine may be sold per day to a customer. Consumers cannot buy more than 9 grams per month, or 7.5 grams by mail.

• As of Sept. 30, retailers must keep a list of all sales of the decongestants including the name and address of the buyer. The customer must present photo identification. The products must be kept behind a counter.

Source: Pharmacists Society of the State of New York

The decongestant is sold without a prescription, but at one chain of drugstores, you can buy it only with photo identification.

CVS jumped the gun on implementing some of the new federal restrictions on the sale of allergy and cold medications such as Sudafed and Claritin-D that contain pseudoephedrine. Customers must present identification and sign a book to obtain the drugs, which are kept behind the counter. The quantity of the medication also is limited.

Beginning Sept. 30, all retailers nationwide will be required to follow the rules. They were enacted as part of a renewal of the USA Patriot Act and are designed to thwart the illegal use of pseudoephedrine to make crystal methamphetamine.

"I think it's insane," said Dr. Liz Ortof, a medical administrator leaving a CVS store in White Plains last week. "There are so many other important issues for the country to worry about. I think this is pretty low down on the list of priorities."

She said she did not use pseudoephedrine products and would be even more upset about the restrictions if she did. Another woman coming out of the store questioned what was to prevent customers from drugstore-hopping if they wanted to buy a large quantity of pseudoephedrine.

But Isabele Eltawil, a New Rochelle resident, said showing identification would not bother her, especially when she was told the purpose of the law.

"Then that I would think is a valid reason," she said.

CVS started implementation of the restrictions early to be ready for the September deadline, but customer feedback is prompting the chain to consider removing the log books for now, said Mike DeAngelis, a spokesman for CVS.

He could not characterize that feedback as complaints, but said it was more due to confusion about the law, particularly in the Northeast. He said concerns over crystal meth were more well-known in other parts of the country.

"We're in a lot of states where this has been an issue for a long time and there are already state regulations on the books that are very similar to the federal law that just went into effect," he said.

The information in the log books is not entered into a central computer system, DeAngelis said. Rather, they are to be kept by retailers in case law enforcement agencies want to see them.

The first part of the new restrictions took effect April 8. People may buy no more than 3.6 grams a day or 9 grams a month of pseudoephedrine and the decongestants ephedrine and phenylpropanolamine. The restrictions are more stringent than those already in place in Westchester County, which limits the sale of pseudoephedrine and phenylpropanolamine to 9 grams in a single transaction.

Pharmacists and convenience stores have been trying to figure out how to enforce the new federal law, called the Combat Meth Act. One problem is that the typical dose for a pseudoephedrine product is 30 milligrams per tablet. That leaves clerks or cashiers to do the math and calculate how many grams are in the package.

Joseph Fiscella, chairman of the Westchester Rockland Pharmaceutical Society, said the limits would be difficult to manage.

"Our organization has been getting a lot of calls from convenience stores, because their help don't even know what pseudoephedrine is and they certainly don't know every product that it's in," said Fiscella, who owns Finch's Drug Store in Rye Brook. "They're very leery about this."

Jay Rothbaum, owner of Hillcrest Pharmacy in Spring Valley, said that rather than having a clerk figure out the allowable quantity of pseudoephedrine, he would not sell more than one package to a customer without the approval of one of his pharmacists. He said that so far, no one has asked for more than one package at a time.

"We never had a big trade in this stuff," said Rothbaum, who is also on the board of the Westchester Rockland Pharmaceutical Society. "If we did, we would have spotted it on our own. I mean if somebody came in and wanted to buy six packages of Sudafed, there would have been a red flag long before anybody ever thought of this legislation."

Consumers may be confused as restrictions seem to vary from store to store. For instance, the Rite Aid chain a year ago voluntarily placed medications that contained only pseudoephedrine behind the pharmacy counter. Meanwhile, many drug companies are reformulating their products so they will no longer contain the drug. Sudafed now comes in a version without it.

Barry Katzen, a publisher who lives in White Plains, said he knew there were new limits on pseudoephedrine sales, but was surprised when a CVS cashier asked to see his identification the other day when he bought Claritin-D at a White Plains store.

"It's really sort of, I guess, a sad comment on what people are doing with the medication," he said. "And I guess it's the usual story that because certain people are doing something illegal, it means everybody else has to pay the price."


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