Prescription could be required to buy cold medicine

Over-the-counter medications for common colds and allergies could become more regulated under a Indiana House bill introduced last week.

House Bill 1106, authored by Rep. Rebecca Kubacki, R-Syracuse, would make medication containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine a schedule III drug, which means it couldn’t be purchased without a doctor’s visit and prescription.

An existing law puts a limit on how much ephedrine and pseudoephedrine can be purchased in a day, month or year. But, Kubacki said she doesn’t think the law goes far enough.

“Current law only encourages the problem more,” Kubacki said. “We’re adding to the problem, not solving it.”

But Richard Feldman, chairman of legislation for the Indiana Academy of Family Physicians, said the medical community prefers the existing legislation to Kubacki’s new bill.

“We think it’s adequate; we don’t want any more restrictions,” Feldman said. “We’re very pleased and comfortable with the current law and the current system – the electronic system – as well as the restrictions placed.”

Feldman also said the bill, if passed, would be a heavy inconvenience for both doctors and patients.

“The last thing that the doctors I talked to want is to be overrun with patient visits for an over-the-counter drug that should remain over-the-counter, rather than seeing patients who deserve their attention,” he said.

Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, said she’s not sure how the bill would be received in her community.

“I’m not willing to tell my constituents that they have to go to the doctor to get cold medicine,” Lawson said. “I just think it’s the wrong thing to do.”

However, Kubacki said the expense of visiting a doctor is small compared to the big-picture cost of meth addiction.

“What needs to be clarified here is it will cost you $80 to visit the doctor to get a prescription for pseudoephedrine. What you don’t know is how much money we spend for one meth addict,” Kubacki said.

Feldman said he thinks meth will always be a problem so imposing additional restrictions wouldn't help.

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