House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, says he will back a controversial proposal to require Hoosiers to get a prescription to obtain some cold medicines in an effort to fight a growing meth problem.
That could give the proposal its first real life in the General Assembly, which has for years eschewed prescription proposals in favor of laws that require pharmacies to track the people who purchase drugs containing pseudoephedrine, one of the ingredients that can be used to make meth.
But Bosma said in an interview with WXIN-TV Channel 59 reporter Dan Spehler that it’s time for the Legislature to take another look. “We’re going to have a serious discussion about addressing this issue,” he said.
On Tuesday, Bosma also named a new chair of the House Public Health Committee, a move that could help the proposal pass. Former Chairman Ed Clere, R-New Albany, had opposed prescription legislation in the past.
Clere said on Tuesday that he still believes requiring a prescription is a “bad idea with lots of potential, negative, unintended consequences.”
The meth problem in Indiana has been especially serious. As of June, Indiana was leading the nation in meth lab busts and on pace for a 4 percent increase over last year, Louisville station WDRB-TV Channel 41 reported. If that pace holds up, the state will lead the nation in meth lab busts for the third year in a row.
Bosma said that’s led him to advocate for requiring prescriptions for the cold and allergy drugs that contain pseudoephedrine.
“I know it’s inconvenient. It’s inconvenient for my family,” Bosma said. “But people are cooking this into a drug that is killing our children and our adults in this state.”
Already, lawmakers had voted to put cold medicines with pseudoephedrine behind the pharmacy counter, requiring customers to request and sign for them. There are also limits on how much a customer can purchase.
Last year, Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, co-authored HB 1390, which would have dropped the amount customers could buy. Customers could then get a prescription or other doctor’s order to obtain more.
But Clere opted not to hear Smaltz’s prescription bill. He said he didn’t want to make it harder for Hoosiers to get the over-the-counter medicines they need.
“As we’ve learned with other drugs, such as prescription pills, addressing the supply isn’t enough,” Clere said Tuesday. “The focus should be on reducing demand, which means more emphasis on prevention and treatment.”
State Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer, R-Indianapolis, will be the new chairwoman of the House Public Health Committee.