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Trio Of Bills Considers Cold Medicine Regulations

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There are three bills in the House Public Health Committee that aim to address Indiana’s meth problem by regulating the sale of pseudoephedrine, a cold medicine that’s a key ingredient in meth production. The committee will decide later this week which of the bills to advance – and a combination is possible.

Southwest Indiana Republican Representative Wendy McNamara’s bill would allow people to buy a roughly 30-day supply of pseudoephedrine drugs; after that, they’d need a prescription.  McNamara acknowledges that her legislation is not a silver bullet… “But what it will do is put a serious dent in it,” she says.

Northeast GOP Representative Ben Smaltz’s bill originally would’ve required a prescription to obtain pseudoephedrine.  But his new proposal would allow Hoosiers who are patients-of-record at a pharmacy – roughly meaning they’ve used that pharmacy before – to get the drug as usual.  If that relationship doesn’t exist, they could get a very small amount…and need a prescription to buy any more.

“This compromise will work for me where I’m at, and won’t inconvenience people where it’s not a problem,” he says.

Law enforcement, local government leaders and pharmacists support those two options – yet make clear that, like Delaware County Prosecutor Jeff Arnold says, the best way forward is making pseudoephedrine available only with a prescription— “But we will take anything we can get to help us in this fight.”

Retailers and some physicians’ groups oppose those two measures, which they say inconvenience Hoosiers.  They support a third bill that would bar drug felons from buying pseudoephedrine. 

Indianapolis Republican Representative David Frizzell’s measure would bar drug felons from purchasing pseudoephedrine.

And Indiana Academy of Family Physicians’ Richard Feldman says he’s definitely against making the drug prescription-only.

“This is a law enforcement issue,” he says. “It should be solved by law enforcement, not burdening the 400,000 legitimate Hoosiers that use pseudoephedrine.”

The committee will meet Wednesday to decide which measure should advance.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.
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