It will take a little more effort to purchase Sudafed and similar over-the-counter cold remedies, thanks to an act of Congress.
The new legislation, part of the renewed Patriot Act, requires consumers to show a photo ID and sign a log book when they buy products containing the nasal decongestant, pseudoephedrine.
The law is designed to make it harder for criminals to obtain pseudoephedrine, which is used to make methamphetamines.
But law enforcement officials are divided over whether it will do any good. While some think it will limit the availability of precursor drugs for small meth labs, others point out that most meth labs smuggle their supplies of precursor drugs from Canada.
Retailers, meanwhile, say they're concerned the new law will have a bigger impact on their operations. Grocery and convenience stores, especially, say requiring customers to show ID and sign a log book for cold medicine will diminish their efficiency.
However, some large drug store chains, in anticipation of the law, have already begun stocking their over-the-counter cold medicines behind the pharmacy counter.
The National Association of Chain Drug Stores has voiced the concern that the new law limits individual sales of pseudoephedrine to 3.6 grams per day and 9 grams per month within 30 days of the bill becoming law. But the bill gives retailers until Sept. 30, 2006, to implement the log system.
Mary Ann Wagner, senior vice president of the group, says until the log book system is in place, it will be impossible to keep up which how much of the drug individual customers have purchased.
The legislation?s supporters say they understand the law will be an inconvenience for some retailers and drugstores. But they point to recent laws in Oklahoma and Iowa limiting access to pseudoephedrine, saying they led to sharp declines in the local production of meth.