Today, the Indiana State Legislature's Criminal Law and Sentencing Policy Study Committee is holding a hearing on how the state can improve its policies for preventing the illegal diversion of pseudoephedrine (PSE) - a key ingredient in leading cold and allergy medicines - for methamphetamine production. The panel will hear a range of policy options, from requiring a prescription for currently accessible medicines like Advil Cold & Sinus, Claritin-D, Sudafed, and Mucinex D, to implementing an electronic tracking system -- at no cost to the state -- to block illegal sales of PSE.
"The residents of Indiana deserve a solution that will help fight the state's meth problem, without placing additional burdens on individuals, families, and the state," said Mandy Hagan, director of state government relations for the Consumer Healthcare Product Association, who is testifying at the hearing on behalf of the leading manufacturers of over-the-counter medicines. "Electronic tracking is the only system that blocks illegal PSE sales while maintaining consumer access to the safe and effective medications they rely on for colds and allergies."
In Indiana, there is currently no mechanism in place to curb the practice of "smurfing," when criminals move from store to store to purchase illegal amounts of PSE to be used in the production of meth. At no cost to the state, electronic tracking (e-tracking) would provide the state's retailers and pharmacists with a consolidated, real-time electronic logbook and blocking system -- accessible only by law enforcement -- that is more effective than current paper logs.
E-tracking, which has been adopted by 12 states nationwide, will also give local law enforcement officials a powerful investigative tool to track and prevent meth production across state lines. E-tracking allows law enforcement to find previously undiscovered meth labs and helps them identify meth cooks. Most importantly, the system preserves Indianans' over-the-counter access to the PSE medications they use and trust for cold and allergy relief while stopping illegal sales.
According to a poll by David Binder Research, almost two-thirds of Indiana voters surveyed oppose making common cold and allergy medications containing PSE available by prescription (Rx) only, and 82 percent agree that an Rx-only requirement would create an "unnecessary burden" for law-abiding citizens. Further, a large majority of respondents agrees that an Rx-only mandate would significantly increase consumer costs and hurt the state's finances at the worst possible time.
In addition to significant consumer opposition to a prescription mandate, additional economic analyses show that an Rx-only policy would have severe economic and social consequences for citizens of Indiana. Under an Rx-only mandate, if only half of Indianans who rely on these medicines were forced to go to a doctor to obtain a prescription, the cost to the healthcare system in doctor visits would be over $31 million. Additional economic impacts to the state would include lost sales tax revenue and notable cost increases to the state's Medicaid program, as well as state employee and retiree programs.
Consumer Healthcare Product Association