Indiana lawmakers toss pseudoephedrine prescription bills
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana won’t require people to get a prescription to buy cold medicine that contains a key ingredient for methamphetamine production now that legislators threw out the proposals before even giving them a hearing.
Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer, R-Beech Grove, and Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis, both said the proposal to require a prescription to buy medicine with pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in the production of meth, won’t be heard when they make it to their respective committees.
“I would not look for anything on Wednesday to come out of the Health committee that has a prescription requirement on it,” Kirchhofer said. “There are wide opinions and I just don’t have the votes to move it in committee or on the House floor.”
For the past three years, Indiana has led the nation in the number of meth lab seizures by police, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.
The prescription requirement was resurrected several times in Indiana to combat the trend in the past and drew fierce debate between pharmaceutical giants and law enforcement organizations.
Currently, Oregon and Mississippi are the only states that have the prescription-only requirement. While meth use was not significantly impacted, Medicaid spending on cold medicine saw a significant increase, according to the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University.
Recent radio advertisements by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association— which represents drug companies that would lose money from decreased medicine sale— touted those potential health care costs in Indiana and the inconvenience of obtaining prescriptions.
But proponents of the prescription requirement say there is misinformation about how many people would actually be affected by the change since there is cold medicine that does not contain pseudoephedrine and wouldn’t be. In Indiana, the cold medicine that does contain pseudoephedrine is already stored behind pharmacy counters.
“If you have a cold, and you don’t currently go to the pharmacy, this won’t affect you,” David Powell, executive director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council.
Recently, the fight for prescriptions also lost a powerful supporter.
Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma last fall endorsed the prescription requirement, but this week said he was open to other options for tightening up state laws.
Legislators will have about a dozen bills to pick from that call for increasing punishment for meth offenders, compensating homeowners who decontaminate former meth houses and updating limits on how much of that medicine a person can buy. Indiana law currently caps the amount one person can buy at a time.
The plan will also have to contend with recent innovations in meth production, including the versatile one-pot method that allows meth labs to be as small as a one-liter soda bottle.
Some options Young said his committee will be considering Tuesday morning include allowing pharmacists to turn away suspicious customers and requiring only drug offenders to get a prescription.
On the House side Wednesday, Kirchhofer said they’ll be exploring allowing pharmacists to conduct interviews with customers and completely banning drug offenders from obtaining pseudoephedrine products.