Sale of Sudafed Behind the Counter Starts Jan. 1: Yes and No

As you most likely know by now, since I was first elected to the Oregon Legislature in 2015, one of my passions has been to remove the prescription requirement to purchase pseudoephedrine (pse or sudafed type products) behind the counter with a photo ID as is the case in over 40 states in the US. As you may also know, finally in 2021, we were able to pass HB 2648 and the behind the counter sales starting January 1, 2022. BUT as always, nothing is easy in Oregon.

Here is the bill from the 2021 session:

As you can see from the summary on the front page, the purchase involves gathering information to make sure that the buyer isn’t “over purchasing” pse products.

“Requires pharmacist or pharmacy technician, prior to transfer, to submit specified information into electronic system designed to prevent illegal transfer of drugs containing pseudoephedrine. Requires pharmacist or pharmacy technician to record specified information about transfer of drug containing pseudoephedrine. Specifies maximum amount of pseudoephedrine that person may receive without prescription.”

The idea is that the pharmacist or tech would “swipe” your driver’s license or other appropriate photo ID and get your name and address to make sure that you are not purchasing more pse than allowed by law. This was to discourage “smurfing” where meth manufacturers send people out to buy sudafed products to make meth.

We addressed this in testimony before the committees in both the House and Senate and in debate on the House floor. We made it clear that Oregon would be joining at least 40 other states in the nPLEX electronic tracking system. You can read the testimony from the company that operates nPLEX here:

We made it VERY clear in testimony that we would be joining the nPLEX system. I begged the drafter of the language to include that, as Mississippi did in their bill that passed earlier this year, but was told that Oregon law prohibits using “brand names” in a bill. Sigh.

As you can see, it’s a very simple system to implement. It’s quite efficient, I’ve used it myself in many other states. Here was my testimony in the House Health Care Committee:

The problem is that we did not apparently look at ALL of the laws in Oregon. You see, when the Legislature passes 500-800 new laws every other year, there are a lot of laws to watch out for (story for another day). It was brought to my attention by a representative of a large chain pharmacy that we cannot “swipe” the ID’s in Oregon because of ORS 807.750 (read here: )

Now I believe that the original drafter of the bill, the Legislative Counsel writer, should have caught this. Still, I am the chief sponsor of the bill and I should have done a deeper dive into the laws. So what does this mean for Sudafed on January 1st?

The law will go into effect and you will be able to purchase without a prescription but, the larger chain pharmacies may not want to allow this if it means entering the information manually which by all that I have been told, can take up to 3 minutes. With the shortage of pharmacists and techs, this is a problem. We have to add “new exemption in ORS 807.750 that allows swiping drivers licenses / ID cards and the sharing of that data (with NPLEX) within the guidelines established in HB 2648” as a bill to amend that statute, and since I only have two weeks left as State Representative and won’t be in office when the short session of 2022 takes place, I am having a draft written now that I HOPE my successor or another legislator will drop as a bill in 2022 and make it retroactive to January 1.

Lastly, a little known fact to most: a bill does not necessarily become law as it’s written. The state agency tasked with the rulemaking for a bill, actually writes what will become the “law” or statute. In this case the agency is the Board of Pharmacy. November 23rd is the date that the Board meets to finalize the language for this new statute. If you should find the time to attend virtually, here is the link: Board of Pharmacy Rulemaking Hearing


  • Marie Rodriguez says:

    This is just another way to get information on people. Sudafed pe cannot be made into inappropriate drugs, is safe for use with ADHD medications. Instructions for use and those who should not use clear, also works well…especially helpful for preventing sinusitis with cold, allergy symptoms. This is madness and another means of control. Also another way to overburden pharmacies.

    • Note that 40 other states do this same thing. Only 7 allow the “over the counter sales” of pse. The rest to some sort of electronic tracking that is not nPLEX. No it’s not stored in any police or other data system…only nPLEX so that only the designated by each state amount can be purchased. You can see all of that in the testimony linked in the article.

    • PS: would you rather it stay as it is in Oregon? A prescription required to purchase then a higher priced product? No, the pharmacies were in support of this bill as they don’t like the extra burden of filling prescriptions for common cold medicine. Read the testimony from pharmacists and Board.

  • Truth Be Told says:

    “But Mama, all the other kids are doing it!” You’re daft. Did you take the “Clot” shots? If so, the prions have reached your brain. Don’t hang out with Dems. They shed S1 Spike Proteins. Via con Dios!

    • So, you’re saying you LIKE having to go to the doctor for a common cold, get a prescription, then take that to the pharmacy, pay about 3x as much as you would in other states and get your sudafed? Doh!
      All in the name of “stopping meth labs”. The meth labs that no longer exist because anyone can buy as much meth as they want and it’s good, pure clean stuff from Mexico. And to add to that, in Oregon, thanks to the voters, you can now possess meth legally. So who exactly is going to trouble themselves with buying packages of sudafed to cook up meth in the bathtub?

  • Jon Peters, MD, MS, FAAFP says:

    As an MD, yes it’s ludicrous to keep Sudafed and its generics by prescription only. Having it sold behind the counter works great. It works well in other states; let’s reduce government oversight where it’s not needed.


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