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Indiana Senate looks at further regulation of cold meds

Updated: February 24, 2013 6:23AM



INDIANAPOLIS — A bill that attempts to control the supply of methamphetamine received a Senate hearing Tuesday.

It proposes to limit who can sell the over-the-counter cold and sinus decongestants, and how much of the medication can be purchased in a year.

Senate Bill 496, authored by Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, would limit who can sell over-the-counter drugs that contain ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, substances used to create meth.

The bill would require pharmacies and convenience stores to use a product-tracking system called InFlux in order to sell the product. Qualified retailers could sell only 72 grams of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine in one year, on top of the monthly limit of 7.2 grams already in state law.

Yoder is also considering an amendment that would place any fires caused by a meth lab operation under an arson charge, making it a minimum Class B felony.

Niki Crawford of the Indiana State Police noted the bill requires the state police to create and maintain a registry to track meth manufacturing offenders. She other states that have established similar, costly databases have seen little benefit. She noted that police officers can keep track of offenders by using a criminal record search.

“It could cost over $600,000 to establish and almost $300,000 a year to maintain it,” Crawford said, “and that’s money that we just don’t have.”

A number of other bills are in the General Assembly to control the sale of the two drugs.

One in the Senate would allow a local government to develop an ordinance requiring a prescription to sell the drug, and the other in the House would place the sale of the drug with more than 28.8 grams a Class C misdemeanor. Efforts to require a prescription for the purchase are also in the works.

But many in the medical and pharmacuetical fields worry the prescription only approach will add higher costs and extra burdens to patients in Indiana.

Mike Tringale of The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America said residents would have to schedule doctors appointments in order to get decongestant medication.

“They would have to take time off from work, visit a doctor and drive to the pharmacy,” Tringale said in a statement. “These additional steps add up to additional co-pays, increased fuel costs and the potential for lost wages at work.”

After the hearing, suggestions of lowering the annual limit, removing the registry, and the potential of adding an arson charge will be considered by Yoder before he presents it to the committee again.

“There were a lot of good suggestions,” Yoder said. “I think we’ll look to reduce the yearly amount, but I feel that we’re about at the right spot.”



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