In several states across the country, lawmakers are gearing up to debate whether pseudoephedrine (PSE), an ingredient in cold medications like Sudafed, should require a prescription. While PSE has long been an ingredient that consumers have relied on to treat nasal congestion, it is also one of the main ingredients used to make methamphetamine (meth).
According to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, over 100,000 more people used meth in 2013 than in the previous year. Meth is a highly addictive illegal drug that can be produced relatively easily by combining household chemical ingredients with these common over-the-counter cold medicines. The impact of meth use and production extends far beyond those who use and abuse the drug, spurring unintended “collateral damage” for the surrounding communities including fires caused by lab explosions, the cost of foster care for children whose parents are drug users and toxic waste from the chemicals used to make the dangerous drug.