Some of Indiana's mayors and law enforcement officials are urging lawmakers to combat the state's methamphetamine scourge by making some cold medications available only by prescription.
Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett told about two dozen officials who gathered Friday for a meth summit , including Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, that the goal is for Indiana to join Oregon and Mississippi in making cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine available only by prescription.
Such medications can be used to make meth, an illegal highly addictive stimulant that's become a growing problem in Indiana.
"What (meth) is doing to our communities is awful," Bennett told the gathering at a Terre Haute hotel.
Bennett is the president-elect of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, one of the groups favoring a prescription-only law for medicines containing pseudoephedrine, the Tribune-Star reported.
He said arrests for meth dealing and possession continue to rise in western Indiana, and at least half of the Vigo County Jail's inmates are there for meth-related crimes.
Summit speaker Niki Crawford of the Indiana State Police meth suppression unit told officials from state agencies, state police and other groups that one box of pseudoephedrine-based medicine is purchased every 15 seconds in Indiana.
"Do we have allergies that bad?" Crawford asked the gathering.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency says Indiana is among the top states for meth-related incidents. The DEA reported more than 1,400 meth incidents in Indiana in 2012, behind only Missouri, which had 1,825 such incidents, and Tennessee, which had 1,585.
Supporters of making pseudoephedrine available only by prescription contend that doing so would help combat the state's meth problem. Pseudoephedrine, a decongestant that's often used in cold medicines, is a key ingredient in making meth.
Oregon started requiring prescriptions for pseudoephedrine products in July of 2006. That year Oregon reported 63 meth lab incidents. Last year, the state reported nine.
But during a state legislative debate last winter over meth-related bills, Indiana Retail Council president Grant M. Monahan said requiring prescriptions for drugs with pseudoephedrine was bound to increase the cost and convenience of health care for law-abiding citizens.
He said people would have to take time off work and pay for doctors' visits, plus pay for the medicine.