Indiana News

Cap on Ephedrine Sales Has Inside Track On Bill Requiring Prescription

Limit is latest attempt to curb use of decongestants as ingredient in meth

3/6/2013

The less restrictive of two bills clamping down on products containing ephedrine appears to be the one legislators will focus on.

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Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are key ingredients in over-the-counter decongestants, but they're also critical ingredients in methamphetamine. That's why you have to sign a logbook when you buy it.

Representatives Rebecca Kubacki (R-Syracuse), Ron Bacon (R-Chandler) and Gail Riecken (D-Evansville) co-sponsored bills to either require a prescription for those remedies or give cities and counties the right to do so. Those bills didn't get a hearing, while the Senate approved a bill to set a yearly cap on how much you can buy. The state already has daily and monthly limits -- the Senate cap is the equivalent of an eight-month supply.

The House Criminal Code Committee plans the second of two hearings on that bill next week, and could vote to send it to the full House. The Indiana Association of Cities and Towns and the Indiana State Police Alliance both say they prefer the tougher approach, but they're endorsing the Senate bill as a step in the right direction. Steve Buschmann with the ISPA acknowledges the Senate bill is the one with the momentum, and says the alliance will settle for making some progress this session and pursue the prescription-only law in future legislative sessions.

Middlebury Senator Carlin Yoder (R), the bill's author, says it strikes the right balance between preventing ephedrine abuse by meth cooks and keeping the medication available to cold and allergy sufferers.

The Senate bill also closes a loophole by requiring all retailers who sell ephedrine products to join a database which logs those sales. Drugstores already have to be part of that network, but some gas stations and convenience stores sell mini-packs of medication without joining it.

IACT says Oregon slashed the number of meth labs to near zero after requiring a prescription for ephedrine-based medications. Former Indiana health commissioner Richard Feldman contends most of that decline happened before the prescription requirement was passed. He says the effectiveness of sales limits is apparent in the fact that 80% of meth in the U.S. is now imported from Mexico, rather than being manufactured domestically.

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