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3 years ago

STUDY: Making Alabama’s Sudafed Rx-only won’t cut down on Meth production

Flickr user frankieleon
Flickr user frankieleon

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Alabama has some of the toughest pseudoephedrine (PSE), known by brand name “Sudafed,” laws in the country aimed at cutting down on the ability of criminals manufacturing methamphetamine to get their hands on the vital component. A new study comparing the outcomes of states that require a prescription to obtain cold medicines containing PSE with those who don’t made a surprising discovery that could have significant policy implications.

According to the report from American Enterprise Institute research fellow and former House Ways and Means Committee chief economist and policy director Alex Brill, the states which have made obtaining a prescription a requirement for Sudafed and other PSE-containing cold medications has made healthcare costs increase, while doing little to stymie the supply of meth.

Thus far in the United States only two states have adopted prescription access only laws—Oregon and Mississippi—though similar laws have been introduced 110 times in 27 other states, including Alabama.

But should this type of law be expanded across the country, the report argues, significant burdens would be incurred by American consumers.

“Each year in the United States, 18 million families buy PSE-based products to combat colds and allergies,” the report explains. “These medicines are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for purchase and use without a doctor’s intervention. Prescription-only laws would make it more difficult for these people to access the medicines they need. In addition to significantly reducing legitimate utilization of PSE medicines, these laws place a substantial economic burden on individuals, federal and state governments, and private payers. The new doctor visits that a national prescription-only law would require would alone generate enormous costs. In the first year, these costs would total nearly $130 million…”

Currently, 90 percent of the methamphetamine in the country flows across our southern border, meaning stricter control of domestic PSEs can only affect around 10 percent of the drug’s presence.

Brill explains in his report that there are much more effective steps state and federal government entities can take to put the kibosh on meth, while still allowing sufferers of colds and allergies to buy medicine without necessarily going to the doctor first.

“To address foreign meth supply, state leaders should support federal efforts to increase drug interdiction at the U.S.-Mexico border through legislation like the Stop Drugs at the Border Act of 2015,” is the first recommendation.

Secondly, the study advises addressing demand for the drug through behavioral intervention and increased educational initiatives.

“Economics tells us—and experience has shown—that as long as demand remains high, supply will rise to meet it. Therefore, it is vital to pair efforts to reduce meth production and importation with a serious education campaign, particularly before abuse starts.”

Alabama rejected an effort to make PSEs prescription-only in 2010, opting instead to take advantage of an existing database system called the National Precursor Log Exchange, or NPLEx, which requires a scan of your photo ID. If an Alabamian buys more than the legally-allowed amount in a given 30 day period law enforcement is alerted.

And there is strong evidence that those measures have worked.

According to the Alabama Drug Abuse Task Force, meth lab seizures in Alabama dropped from 720 in 2010, to 154 in 2013, and the system blocked 26,354 attempted PSE purchases in the first quarter of 2010 alone.

The entire report can be read online here.


2 hours ago

A second former Prattville police officer sentenced for theft

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Friday announced that former Prattville police officer John Wayne McDaniel Jr. has been sentenced for conspiracy to commit burglary, third-degree theft, second-degree theft of prescription medicine and criminal impersonation of a police officer.

McDaniel was sentenced in Autauga County Circuit Court to ten years for each count, with the sentences being split for him to serve three years in community corrections rather than prison. The sentences will run concurrently.

“It is always serious and a sad betrayal of the public’s trust when a law enforcement officer breaks the law he has sworn to uphold,” said Marshall.

He continued, “In this case, the court considered that McDaniel acknowledged his wrongdoing, cooperated in the investigation, and assisted with information for the prosecution of others in related crimes. His sentence takes this into account, yet imposes strong controls to invoke his prison sentence if he fails to abide by the strict standards of the community corrections program.”

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In the community corrections program, defendants may serve their time outside of prison or jail but are held to stringent conditions and supervision, and upon any failure to comply are subject to immediately being sent to jail or prison.

McDaniel’s cooperation was an integral factor in the successful prosecution of another former Prattville police officer, Leon Todd Townson, who was sentenced on Monday to serve ten years in prison for first-degree insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary and and three years for third-degree burglary. Townson’s sentences run concurrently.

McDaniel and Townson were both originally charged with breaking into a home in 2015, and Townson was also charged in 2017 with defrauding an insurance agency by filing a claim worth $190,000 using false information.

Marshall commended Assistant Attorney General John Kachelman of the office’s Criminal Trials Division for his exemplary work in bringing these cases to a successful conclusion. The Attorney General also applauded Special Agents of his Investigations Division and thanked the Prattville Police Department for their crucial role in the investigation and prosecution of the two cases.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

77-year-old identical twin sisters ‘serving up smiles’ at Alabama McDonald’s

A pair of 77-year-old identical twin sisters working at a Shelby County McDonald’s restaurant has customers saying, “I’m lovin’ it.”

Maryann Byrne and Alice Moore, the twins, are so popular that a customer called WBRC urging them to do a story about the sisters, who work at the location on Valleydale Road and the corner of Caldwell Mill Road.

Byrne and Moore do every task – from taking customers’ orders, to preparing food and pouring piping-hot cups of coffee – with genuine smiles that are contagious to co-workers and customers alike.

“Those two ladies are a breath of fresh air for all the people who come in here,” customer Rod Peeks told WBRC. “They’re just amazing.”

The sisters say it all comes down to them loving to serve others and caring about the people they interact with.

“The customers are gorgeous, they really are,” said Byrne. “They’re like your family members.”

“We like to make people happy. We like to please people. God made them and we need to please them,” added Moore.

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The story gets even better. The sisters get to work with another family member, as Moore’s daughter is the general manager of the restaurant.

“They’re my superstars and I love them to pieces. Please come in and see them,” Barbara Gibbs said about her mom and aunt.

Byrne calls her sister “the twin queen,” because Moore has a set of twins and her daughter Maria, the manager, gave birth to twin boys.

Watch the entire story below:

WBRC FOX6 News – Birmingham, AL

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

Jefferson State Community College gets grant to improve biomedical training program

Gov. Kay Ivey has awarded Jefferson State Community College $220,817 to upgrade a program that trains students for jobs in the medical industry.

The grant, provided to the state by the Appalachian Regional Commission, will be used to purchase equipment, furniture and supplies to upgrade classroom and laboratory space for the college’s biomedical training program. The program trains students as biomedical equipment technicians in both manufacturing and healthcare.

“My administration has championed job growth in Alabama, and programs like this ensure that our workforce is trained and ready for those jobs,” Ivey said in a press release. “I am pleased that this ARC funding is helping to provide better opportunities for Alabama workers.”

Thirty-seven Alabama counties are members of the Appalachian Regional Commission and eligible for grant funds.

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4 hours ago

Congratulations to all of Alabama’s Congressional delegation on their re-elections

[WRITER’S NOTE: Before I get started, let me just short-circuit 90 percent of the response to what I am about to say is going to get: No, fivethirtyeight.com was not totally wrong about the presidential election. They said Hillary Clinton was going to win the popular vote, and she did.

If you are an elected Congressman from Alabama, you are good to go in November, according to FiveThirtyEight.

The least likely winner is Congresswoman Martha Roby, who is still expected to brutalize her opponent.

This should surprise absolutely no one. Alabama is still a red state. The only blue district in the state is a gerrymandered mess that includes Birmingham and Montgomery, so Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham) didn’t even draw an opponent.

The bigger story from fivethirtyeight.com is that their analysis shows two things:

1. Republicans are projected to lose, but it’s not impossible (this is better than the chance they gave Trump)

2. There are far more Solid D (188) seats than Solid R (146) seats, that means more seats for Republicans to defend, and that means less money for each one.

This could be a tough year for Republicans, but all is not lost yet.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a conservative talk show  from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

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5 hours ago

See where Alabama schools rank in Princeton Review’s list of best colleges

The Princeton Review has released their trademark list of the “Best 384 Colleges” for 2019 and three Alabama schools made the cut.

To compile their latest edition, which is the 27th annual, the Princeton Review interviewed 138,000 students and examined the relevant data on the nation’s colleges.

See which Alabama institutions are on the list, and why, below:

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(Note that the following sub-rankings are only done for top 20 schools in each category)

Auburn University

Best Athletic Facilities – #2
Future Rotarians and DAR – #14
Happiest Students – #19
Students Pack the Stadiums – #5
Their Students Love These Colleges – #18
Town-Gown Relations are Great – #7

Academics, on a scale of 1-99: 75

Read more about Auburn’s inclusion here.

The University of Alabama

Best Athletic Facilities – #1
Best College Dorms – #13
Best-Run Colleges – #11
Lots of Greek Life – #5
Most Active Student Governments – #8

Academics, on a scale of 1-99: 77

Read more about UA’s inclusion here.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham

UAB’s post-graduate programs really push it over the top as a premier high-education institution.

The Princeton Review highlighted UAB by saying, “At the University of Alabama at Birmingham, professors and administrators ‘care about you.'” They also boast a relatively low student-to-faculty ratio.

Academics, on a scale of 1-99: 67

Read more about UAB’s inclusion here.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn