Pharmacists, state court administration enlisted in fight against meth labs

A comprise bill that would allow pharmacists to deny the sale of over-the-counter medicines containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine was signed into law Monday.

The measure seeks to limit methamphetamine production in the state by targeting the key ingredients used in making the highly-addictive drug. Indiana prosecutors had advocated for cold and allergy medications with ephedrine and pseudoephedrine to be made available only by prescription, but the push failed to gain enough support in the Statehouse.  

Instead, Senate Enrolled Act 80, co-authored by Sens. Randall Head, R-Logansport, and James Merritt, R-Indianapolis, was approved easily in both chambers. While the bill was being debated in the House of Representatives, minority leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, did offer an amendment which would have prohibited a pharmacist from denying a sale based on the customer’s race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, national origin, veteran status or ancestry. The amendment failed on a 31-to-59 vote.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill along with two other pieces of legislation — SEA 161 and HEA 1157 — aimed at curbing meth labs around the state. He described the three bills as “a positive step in combatting drugs.”

Both SEA 161 and HEA 1157 place a new duty on the Division of State Court Administration. The agency will now be required to report certain methamphetamine-related felonies to the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) so Appriss, the private company that developed the database, can issue an alert to prevent those individuals from purchasing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine.

“These bills, which I am pleased to sign into law, will make it more difficult for criminals to obtain the materials used in the production of meth,” Pence said in a press release. “It also protects Hoosier consumers who use cold medicines responsibly to treat illness. Our administration will continue to prioritize the issue of drug abuse, and these bills mark a positive step in combatting drugs as it relates specifically to meth.”


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