Legislation in works to require prescription for some cold, cough medicines

Lawmakers, police, mayors want to reduce meth labs

INDIANAPOLIS - Hoosiers could soon need a doctor's prescription to get the cold medicine they need.

Rep. Rebecca Kubacki, R-Syracuse, is authoring legislation that would make pseudoephedrine a controlled drug.

Currently, shoppers can obtain cold and cough medicine containing pseudoephedrine behind the counter by showing identification and signing their name, which is stored in an electronic database.

Under Kubacki’s legislation, consumers would have to show a doctor's prescription in order to obtain products containing pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient used in making meth.

"The state's problem is costing our communities millions," Kubacki told Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney. "Do we really want to be known as one of the worst states for meth labs?"

Numbers obtained from Indiana State Police reveal officers have responded to 1,401 meth labs so far this year.

For the same time period in 2011, officers responded to 1,154.

"We're 20 percent higher this year than we were last year," said First Sergeant Niki Crawford, commander of Indiana State Police's meth suppression unit. "I would say meth ranks at the very top in terms of abuse and manufacturing. It's a huge problem across the state."

Kubacki's legislation has the full support of Indiana State Police, the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns and mayors from around the state.

"I've been to meth labs where people are living in squalor," said Plymouth Mayor Mark Senter. "That's probably number one, is how the children of these meth people are being treated."

Two other states, Oregon and Mississippi, already have legislation in place requiring a prescription for pseudoephedrine.

"In Mississippi, their labs went down 70 percent," said Crawford. "In Oregon, their labs went down 96 percent."

Crawford said meth in Indiana not only cost millions of dollars, but they also impact property values and lead to other crimes such as burglaries and thefts.

"Anything within the drug culture is very connected with a lot of your property crimes -- burglaries, thefts, because they need money to make meth," said Crawford.

According to our partners at Scripps Howard News Service, at least 16 states pursued pseudoephedrine legislation in the last year and all failed.

"I think having the support of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns is huge," said Kubacki when asked if the legislation could pass this session.

Kubacki authored similar legislation in 2010 but it failed.

RTV6 found many people are still skeptical of getting a prescription for cold medicine.

"If you have a cough, you don't want to go through the whole hassle of making a doctor's appointment," said Jenna Blumenfeld.

"I don't like that," said Doug Gritton. "I don't think there's any reason to have prescriptions for something as needed as often as cough medicine."

Crawford of Indiana State Police admits it may be inconvenient for some, but says drastically cutting the number of meth labs will make the community safer and save taxpayers millions of dollars currently spent on investigating and cleaning up meth labs.

"What we want to do is reduce the burden on the taxpayer because every dollar of that is taxpayer money," said Crawford.

Crawford estimated $2,500 is spent on every meth lab in Indiana.

A 70 percent reduction in meth labs would save an estimated $2.5 million a year.

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