Timeline: Big Pharma’s Fight to Protect the Drugs That Cooks Turn Into Meth

Box: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/laurafries/61632567/sizes/m/in/photolist-6rTdt-8K7GFS-tq3vU-4oggzn-xDWaB-5rZU3R-yandg-DubsE-2mzvGx-8xjGx-6iwFdw-JPiT8-5WgcGe-7GbCdz-D3b81-4K6Z6n-azfrLa-7vxv1t-DP9pu-5NcMhv-wD95T-aua2xz-aNvkpD-5G7NbT-5pDo4V-4hRsUG-5VvdRi-qLMT8-5VHPsB-4rk8oN-723DAg-7oCGE8-DLFhQ-bWSx3Z-87Tyv-dSR7GH-aA9wyZ-asYD1p-2SSbm8-818BPD-8LYXcA-8Fyn35-8TWCnm-ggUrS-yxgyP-5NRkrK-9MGDaR-bXrNW9-5k2PhB-5LHBCZ-921met/">LauraFries.com</a>/Flickr; Pills: <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sudafed_Pills.jpg">ParentingPatch</a>/Wikimedia Commons; Chef: Shutterstock

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YEAR

LEGISLATIVE ACTION

REACTION

1980

The federal government tightens restrictions on phenyl-2-propanone, used to make methamphetamine.

Meth producers switch to ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, used in cold meds, to produce a more potent form of meth.

1986

Fresh from its, and so far only, victory against a drug—control of the chemical used to make quaaludes—the Drug Enforcement Administration proposes controls for ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.

Pharma lobbyist Allan Rexinger calls the White House, which “basically intervened on our behalf,” Rexinger tells the Oregonian in 2004. “After that we had useful negotiations with the dea.”

1988

The Federal Chemical Diversion and Trafficking Act mandates recordkeeping for various drug precursor chemicals. Industry wins an exemption for ephedrine and pseudoephedrine in pill form.

Meth producers and their suppliers switch to ephedrine and pseudoephedrine in pill form.

1993

The Domestic Chemical Diversion and Control Act closes the ephedrine pill loophole, but pseudoephedrine exemption remains.

Labs switch from ephedrine to pseudoephedrine pills.

1996

The Comprehensive Methamphetamine Control Act closes the pseudoephedrine pill loophole. Industry, with help from Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), wins exemption for pills sold in blister packs.

Labs switch to blister packs.

2000

The Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act reduces the amount of pseudoephedrine that can be sold in a single transaction. Blister packs are again exempted.

Meth labs proliferate nationwide.

2004

Oklahoma becomes the state to put pseudoephedrine behind the counter. Industry fights the measure.

Meth labs plummet in Oklahoma, encouraging other states to follow suit.

2005

The Federal Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act requires stores to put pseudoephedrine behind the counter (without requiring a prescription) and limits how much an individual can buy. Industry says this will hurt consumers and won’t reduce labs.

Meth lab incidents fall 61 percent nationwide. But cooks begin employing smurfers to go from pharmacy to pharmacy and buy the maximum amount allowed.

2006

Oregon makes pseudoephedrine a prescription drug despite massive industry lobbying.

Meth lab incidents decrease 96 percent in Oregon over the next six years.

2007

Bucking industry opposition, Mexico bans most pseudoephedrine.

Potency of meth being smuggled into the US plunges as Mexican labs switch to other chemicals.

2009 to present

Lawmakers in 24 states try to make pseudoephedrine a prescription drug. In DC, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden drafts a federal prescription bill.

All but one of the bills are defeated. Citing consumer concerns and “heavy industry spending,” Wyden never introduces his legislation.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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