New law may make it harder to buy allergy meds - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

New law may make it harder to buy allergy meds


This warm weather is pushing pollen out into the air in big numbers and that means allergy season is here a little early this year.

But a new state law may make it harder for allergy sufferers to get their hands on medicine for relief.

The bill passed today in the house is designed to try and make it harder for meth makers to get their hands on the ephedrine they want to make their drugs, while still allowing allergy and cold sufferers to get their hands on the medicine they need.

"It was a team effort," said bill co-sponsor Rep. Blaine Galliher (R-Etowah Co). "The retail outlets, pharmacy association. There was a lot of work and effort put into this by all of these groups to come out with a common sense solution to this issue."

The bill will only allow pharmacies run by licensed pharmacists to sell ephedrine-based products behind the counter, so no more picking up cold medicine at the dollar store.

It also lowers the amount you can get without a prescription from 9 grams to 7.5, which is a 30-day supply. If you're coming into Alabama from a state like Mississippi that requires a prescription for ephedrine, you have to have the prescription with you, and anyone buying ephedrine medicines must have a drivers license or state ID.

If you're an allergy sufferer looking for relief, allergist Dr. Weily Soong of the Alabama Allergy and Asthma Center says limiting access to ephedrine shouldn't hurt.

"I try to avoid not using ephedrine-based products because of the side effects, of what crystal meth does," Dr. Soong said. "It can raise your heart rate, raise your blood pressure, make you stay up at night. There are much much better medications for allergies."

And you may need them. Dr. Soong says this early start to the allergy season doesn't mean it will end early.

"It portends a worse allergy season because the season is longer," Dr. Soong said. "The season in Alabama tends to be March to about May. But going February into probably mid-June is longer therefore sufferers have longer to suffer."

[Click here for a link to Dr. Soong's tips on how to limit exposure to pollen, which might reduce allergy symptoms.]

To check the current pollen levels in the greater Birmingham area, visit

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