(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — In a major victory for consumer health, today Mississippi has repealed an 11-year-old law that banned over-the-counter (OTC) sales of certain medicines for colds and allergies containing the decongestant pseudoephedrine (PSE). Mississippi had previously allowed OTC PSE sales until 2010 when it categorized PSE as a Schedule III controlled substance making it only available with a doctor’s prescription (Rx). The new law returns PSE to OTC status allowing consumers to purchase 3.6 grams of PSE per day, up to 7.2 grams per month. It also establishes a new technology-based system to enforce sales limits. The bill passed overwhelmingly in the House and Senate and was signed by Governor Tate Reeves. Mississippi joins 48 other states that allow OTC sale of PSE, leaving Oregon as the only state that requires a prescription.
The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) strongly opposes restrictions on consumer access to OTC medicines, such as Rx-only policies for PSE, and worked closely with Mississippi lawmakers on repealing the law. “This is a popular issue and a long-awaited win for consumers in Mississippi,” said Carlos Gutierrez, vice president of state and local government affairs at CHPA. “It’s also a win for public health since Mississippians will be able to get easier access to the safe and effective cold and allergy medicines they want and need without wasting valuable time and cost at the doctor’s office.”
Mississippi placed restrictions on OTC access to PSE in 2010 as a local response to the nationwide methamphetamine epidemic in the hope of preventing criminals from misusing PSE as an ingredient to “cook” home-made meth. But rather than burdening consumers with Rx requirements, other states preserved the OTC status of PSE and turned to new technology — namely, the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) — to prevent criminal access to PSE. NPLEx is a real-time stop-sale technology that allows retailers to enforce sales limits and assists law enforcement in preventing illegal sales. Now adopted and used in 35 states, NPLEx has proven to be the superior approach to preserving consumer access to PSE while also preventing criminal access. When the new law is enacted, Mississippi will be the 36th state to adopt NPLEx technology.
Passage of the Mississippi bill also comes on the heels of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) report, the 2020 National Drug Threat Assessment, which states that meth lab seizures are at the lowest in nearly two decades. Lawmakers around the country have tried restricting sales of PSE in the past to limit the ingredient’s diversion into the production of methamphetamine. According to the DEA report, now most methamphetamine in the United States comes from transnational organized crime syndicates in Mexico.