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19 March 2000
To the Alabama Senate Committee on the Judiciary
re: An Elegant Technological Solution to Preventing Date Rape.
Dear Senate Judiciary members,
There is a simple, inexpensive and effective means to prevent the use of GHB or other pharmaceuticals for date-rape purposes. By law, you could mandate that all GHB, GBL, 1,4-butanediol, tranquilizers and sedatives be formulated with Bitrex (denatonium benzoate), an extremely bitter substance which is overpowering to human taste buds in mere parts per million concentrations.
Any drink or food to which a Bitrex-containing substance had been surreptitiously added would be immediately detected, even if strongly diluted, and even if mixed into naturally bitter grapefruit juice. Yet Bitrex inside of pills and capsules would not be tasted at all. It would therefore not interfere with legitimate uses of prescribed pharmaceuticals.
Bitrex is extremely inexpensive and its toxicity is very low at the extreme dilutions that would be sufficient to accomplish this end.
Traces of Bitrex would not interfere with the vast majority of industrial applications of any GHB analog. So the use of Bitrex-denatured substances in industrial, commercial and retail products would not have to be restricted in any way. Those rare businesses that might require undenatured GBL, for examples, the computer or drug-manufacturing industries, could register with the state for permission to use a listed substance. Since this would be rare, instead of common as with SB 305, the economic burden to Alabama businesses (and the state economy) would be minimized.
Those rare patients who have some kind of adverse reaction to denatured medications can have undenatured medications prescribed by their physicians and compounded by Alabama pharmacists.
Please consider this alternative approach. I believe it bypasses all (or nearly all) of the objections to SB 305 (both old and new) that have been raised so far.
Steven Wm. Fowkes
cc: Bill Pryor
Ward Dean, M.D.