INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Requiring people to have a prescription to buy cold medicines that contain
pseudoephedrine could help staunch methamphetamine abuse, supporters told
Indiana legislators Monday, but critics said it would just intrude on sick
people’s rights and raise the cost of health care.
are considering whether to give local governments the option of requiring
prescriptions for cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine, which can be
used to make meth. The House Committee on Courts and Criminal Procedure
listened to about three hours of testimony Monday, but didn’t take a vote on
whether to send the bill to the full House.
agencies seized more than 1,800 methamphetamine labs last year, a number
that has increased for seven consecutive years despite the strengthening of
state laws restricting sales on the decongestant pseudoephedrine, according
to a report released Friday by state police.
said that proves the need to make the restrictions even stronger, but others
weren’t so sure that was the solution.
Council president Grant M. Monahan said requiring prescriptions for drugs
with pseudoephedrine was bound to increase the cost of health care, as
people would have to take time off work and pay for doctors’ visits, plus
pay for the medicine.
“This would take
away the rights of law-abiding citizens,” said Kevin J. Kraushaar, a
lobbyist for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association.
As meth laws have
become stricter, meth makers have circumvented the limits by having other
people buy the cold medicine on their behalf, a practice known as “smurfing,”
said Sgt. Niki Crawford, commander of Indiana’s Meth Suppression division.
“Not only do people
run out and get their milk before the storm,” Crawford said, referring to
the rush on grocery stores ahead of last week’s wintry blast, “they’re
running out and getting their pseudoephedrine before the storm.”
testified for and against the bill described meth use in Indiana as an
“If this were an
Ebola virus epidemic, no one would blink at doing a quarantine,” said Larry
Landis, executive director of the Indiana Public Defender Council.
Enforcement Agency statistics have said most of the meth abused in the
United States is smuggled in from Mexico, police who testified Monday said
they believe most of the meth used in Indiana is brewed in homemade chemical
sets small enough to fit in a soda bottle.
said the well-intentioned bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Ben Smaltz,
might prove ineffective while intruding on individuals’ private health care.
“This bill means
citizens will be denied the right to treat their own health care
conditions,” said Kraushaar.