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Prescription to Eliminate Indiana's Drug Labs

The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council says their effort to require a prescription for cold medicines won't end until a law is in place. (Veronica Carter)
The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council says their effort to require a prescription for cold medicines won't end until a law is in place. (Veronica Carter)
February 4, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS – There's an effort in Indiana to keep the state from gaining the distinction of having the most methamphetamine labs in the country for a fourth straight year.

Legislation was recently shot down that would have required a prescription for cold tablets that contain pseudoephedrine, which is the key ingredient in meth.

The latest version of the bill would give pharmacists power to choose to whom to sell.

David Powell, director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, says it won't stop people from using, but it will reduce the harm it's doing to children who are in homes where small meth labs are operating.

"There's this consumer scare that the drug companies and the large retailers are politically trying to create, and it's really all about greed,” he states. “They don't want to stop the sales of these products yet they're not willing to pay for the collateral consequences they create. "

Meth can be made in just a few hours in small labs and the chemicals used are toxic, especially to children inhaling the fumes.

Those opposing changing the law say it would unfairly punish law abiding citizens and argue that a cold or allergies would cost people more because they'd have to take time off work so they could see a doctor to get the prescription.

Two states have banned over-the-counter sales of pseudoephedrine – Mississippi and Oregon.

Researchers at Ball State University found there was no drop in the use of the drug in those states.

Powell acknowledges that, but he says so-called smurfs, people who are sent out to buy cold tablets for drug makers, are being stopped and that's what will eliminate the home labs.

"They haven't eliminated meth, but they have eliminated the meth labs and that's the message we're trying to create,” he states. “We're not going to solve the meth problem, but we are going to solve the meth lab problem and eliminate all those collateral consequences to property, to people, to children."

Currently in Indiana, the medication is behind the counter and records are kept of who buys it.

Powell calls smurfs low hanging fruit, who are easy to arrest, because they have to sign for the medication.

"Time is on our side with our meth lab numbers,” he states. “I mean it is what it is, and so you make a legislative tweak, if it has no impact, you come back and say we told you so that it wouldn't work and there's another tweak."

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN