Bill to restrict ephedrine/pseudoephedrine sales passes

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — If you use cold or allergy medicine on a regular basis, you may soon have to cut back on the amount you buy.

An Indiana Senate committee voted Tuesday to limit Hoosiers to 61.2 grams of pseudoephedrine or ephedrine per year.

The 10-0 vote would limit purchases to 61.2 grams per year. That would provide the average user with about 8 months worth of relief.

The number, a key focus of the bill authored by Sen. Carlin Yoder (R-Middlebury), was lowered from an original proposal of 72 grams per year, which would have provided around 10 months worth of pills.

“This drug kills families; it eats them alive,” Yoder told 24-Hour-News 8. “We've got to do everything it takes to prevent  meth from growing even more than it is and we've got to stop it, and this is another step in that battle.”

The current limit in Indiana is tracked on a monthly, not yearly basis, but adds up to 86.4 grams per year.

Pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient in methamphetamine, and the measure is aimed at making it harder for meth cooks to get it.           

"It's 8 months because the medical evidence told us that a person with these types of symptoms would require this much over this period of time,” said Sen. Michael Young (R-Indianapolis), a co-sponsor of the bill. “Now, if for some reason you need more, you'll have to go to the doctor and get a prescription.”

Other key provisions under the bill were removed Tuesday, including a proposal that would have required Indiana State Police to create and maintain a statewide registry of everyone convicted of methamphetamine related offenses. A proposal to limit ephedrine and pseudoephedrine sales to pharmacies only was also amended, to allow sales at convenience stores, as long as they participate in the state’s computerized tracking system.

A separate bill filed in the Indiana House of Representatives by Rep. Ron Bacon (R-Chandler) would lower the limit to 28.8 grams--or about 4 months--per year without a doctor’s prescription. Under that bill, local municipalities would be given the ability to schedule the drug, requiring a prescription to get it.

Bacon’s bill was assigned to committee, but hasn't been heard yet.

Tuesday, Young said he doubted it would be.

“Senator Yoder’s bill is the one,” Young said. “And, I think it will get pretty broad support.”

Since 2005, Indiana has been tracking pseudoephedrine purchases, and last year the state’s system went “high tech.” Investigators now use real-time computerized tracking of the medicines through a system called “The National Precursor Log Exchange” or NPLEx. The makers of the system tout that it blocked more than 530,000 grams of pseudoephedrine from being illegally sold during the first three months of its use in 2011 alone.

But, some lawmakers say it’s not been enough to stop the still rapidly growing rate of meth manufacturing in Indiana.

Yoder’s bill now moves to the full Senate.

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