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Pence signs anti-methamphetamine proposals into law

March 21, 2016

Pharmacists in Indiana will be able to limit how much cold medicine customers can buy under a measure Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed into law Monday that's meant to curb the ability for methamphetamine cooks to obtain pseudoephedrine.

The measure allows pharmacy regulars to buy pseudoephedrine in legally maximum amounts while allowing pharmacists to limit quantities of the cold medicine sold to unfamiliar customers without a prescription. Pseudoephedrine is a common ingredient in meth that is found in some cold medicines.

Pence said while it is not a cure-all, he believes it is a significant step in fighting the illegal drug's prevalence in Indiana, which has led the nation in meth lab seizures for the past three years.

"I think it was a real commonsense solution that took into account the interest of parents and law-abiding citizens to be able to have access to pseudoephedrine when a family member is struggling with an illness and at the same time creating new barriers for individuals who may be using those materials to create meth," Pence said.

The bill had been the fulcrum of an effort by lawmakers to balance customer access to the over-the-counter medicine and feasible restrictions that would prevent meth cooks from obtaining the medicine. Lobbyists for pharmaceutical giants and consumers have been vocal opponents of restrictions on pseudoephedrine.

The measure received wide support in the Legislature, including from House Speaker Brian Bosma, who said earlier that tackling meth manufacturing was a personal priority.

"I think it's going to make a big difference in the number of meth labs in Indiana," bill author Sen. Randy Head said.

But the final product ended up as a diluted version of a House measure that would have required prescriptions for everyone seeking to buy the medicine.

The signed measure makes Indiana the second state with the pharmacist-focused legislation. Arkansas implemented a similar measure in 2011. The state's meth lab seizures dropped from 281 that year to 43 in 2014, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Pence also signed a bill that would bar felons with meth-related convictions from buying pseudoephedrine without a prescription. It would enhance the National Precursor Log Exchange, which tracks pseudoephedrine sales, to issue a stop-sale alert if those felons attempt to buy the medicine.

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