Pseudoephedrine is a medication that works as a nasal decongestant. It helps to relieve the symptoms of respiratory allergies, sinusitis and the common cold. It is an over-the-counter drug, not a controlled substance. However, if diverted from its intended users, pseudoephedrine is also an ingredient used in the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine.

The Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 is the most recent in a long line of federal legislation enacted to ensure patients with legitimate medical needs have access to the drug while attempting to combat illicit methamphetamine production. The CMEA imposes the following limitations on access to pseudoephedrine.

Identification and logging

Patients who wish to purchase pseudoephedrine must produce valid photo identification to the pharmacy personnel. The pharmacist or technician must verify the patient’s identity and then keep a record of the purchase, including the following data:

  • The purchaser’s name and address
  • The date and time of the transaction
  • The name of the product
  • The quantity sold

The purchaser must then sign the record.

While some states require a physical logbook using pen and paper, most allow pharmacies to log the information electronically. Logging pseudoephedrine purchases allows pharmacies to track sales of products containing pseudoephedrine. If necessary, law enforcement can gain access to this information during an investigation.


Though an over-the-counter product, medications containing pseudoephedrine cannot sit out on shelves in the main area of the store. They must remain behind the pharmacy counter or in a locked cabinet. Patients who want to purchase them must present to the counter and ask the pharmacist for the product.

Sales limits

There are limits on how much pseudoephedrine a patient can buy per day and within a single month. An individual may purchase no more than nine grams per 30-day period. The sales limit per day is 3.6 grams.

These are federal regulations that apply throughout the country. Individual states may impose their own limits on pseudoephedrine purchases.