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February 2, 2013

Legislation would place annual limit on pseudoephedrine purchases

Some lawmakers are concerned about year-round allergy sufferers

INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosiers could buy less cold medicine each year under a measure intended to limit methamphetamine-makers’ access to an ingredient key to the drug’s production.

The bill unanimously approved by the state Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee on Tuesday would place an annual limit on the amount of medicine containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.

Senate Bill 496 would block consumers from purchasing more than roughly eight months’ worth of those medicines each year — or about 61 grams. That limit would be in addition to the current monthly maximum of 7.2 grams.

In order to get more than that, purchasers would need a doctor’s prescription. Some lawmakers said they worried that year-round allergy sufferers would face new costs if the bill becomes law, but the committee approved in anyway on a 10-0 vote.

“Most people would not need a prescription,” said the bill’s author, Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury.

Already, purchases of medicines containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine are tracked in an online database. Buyers must show photo identification and sign a log that law enforcement officials can follow in real time.

“Meth is a very serious problem throughout the state of Indiana,” Yoder said. “We must develop creative solutions in order to fight this dangerous drug. My bill is aimed at limiting access to ephedrine products for people convicted of meth-related crimes without burdening law-abiding Hoosier families.”

Yoder’s bill in one of several efforts to crack down on meth production during the General Assembly’s current four-month, budget-writing legislative session.

Rep. Ron Bacon, R-Chandler, is the lead author of a measure that would set a lower limit of 28.8 grams of medicines containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine that Hoosiers can buy per year without a doctor’s prescription.

It would also allow counties to adopt ordinances requiring prescriptions for all purchases of those medicines. Meanwhile, Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, is pushing a bill that would launch a two-year pilot program allowing counties to adopt such ordinances.

Three other bills the strictest meth crackdowns introduced this session would expand that requirement statewide.

Yoder’s bill is the first to be green-lighted by a legislative committee. It now moves on to the full Senate for consideration.

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