In recent years, half of the states have pushed for legislation that would constrict the ease in which one can obtain over-the-counter medications that contain pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient used to manufacture crystal methamphetamine. However, big pharma giants like Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson maintain a strong, successful hold on lawmakers and lobbying to prevent such laws from being passed.

In about the last seven years, Oregon and Mississippi have successfully enacted legislation that requires prescriptions to obtain medications containing pseudoephedrine. The Oregon law has been successful in combating the spread of crystal meth. In fact, it has slowed it down drastically. Meth labs in Oregon have decreased by as much as 96 percent, and, in 2009, the crime rate fell 40 percent. The state of Mississippi has enjoyed a 74 percent decline in meth labs since enacting a similar law in 2010.

The story is much different in Kentucky, however. Kentucky is one of the top states for meth lab discoveries by law enforcement, the number tripling since 2007. And seeing as how Kentucky is one of the top meth states, that means its one of the top sellers of pseudoephedrine medications, a veritable cash cow of pharmacy companies. Laurel County is the top seller of pseudoephedrine in the state.

Since Kentucky lawmakers have been pushing harder for legislation, similar to that enacted by Oregon and Mississippi, the drug companies have launched full-scale ad campaigns and lobbying efforts. The companies broke lobbying spending records in 2010 and 2012, and each time, they overcame doctors, drug experts, and legislators alike, to keep the ease of purchasing pseudoephedrine medications constant.

Because the companies’ greed and chase for profits trumps their concern for humanity and consumer safety, they have cost Kentucky $30 million spent on combating crystal meth. On a national scale, crystal meth is costing America from $16 billion to $48 billion annually. But the companies selfishly overlook that figure because they want to protect their income.

Law enforcement isn’t the only sector that receives a hit from meth-related incidents. Those in the medical profession have also witnessed the brunt, often felt by taxpayers, of this scourge. It costs nearly $230,000 to treat a single burn victim injured in meth lab fires and explosions, that triples what’s usually spent to treat the average burn victim.

In North Carolina, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), a group of pharmaceutical companies, successfully stamped out a prescription bill in 2011, as they had done in Kentucky years prior. After they killed the bill, meth lab discoveries increased in North Carolina.  

Josh is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow him on Twitter @dnJdeli.