News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

September 3, 2009

Wabash Valley woman didn’t realize second cold medicine purchase violated drug laws

(Continued)

CLINTON —

While the law was written with the intent of stopping people from purchasing large quantities of drugs to make methamphetamine, the law does not say the purchase must be made with the intent to make meth.

“The law does not make this distinction,” Alexander said.

If the law said “with intent to manufacture methamphetamine,” no one could be arrested until it was proven that the drug actually was used to make meth, the prosecutor said.

And that certainly wasn’t the intent of the law, either. It was written to limit access to the key ingredient in meth — pseudoephedrine — and thereby to stop the clandestine “mom and pop” meth labs that were cooking drugs throughout the area.

Just as with any law, the public has the responsibility to know what is legal and what is not, and ignorance of the law is no excuse, the prosecutor said.

“I’m simply enforcing the law as it was written,” Alexander said.

Pharmacies post “Meth Watch” signs, alerting customers that their purchases of drugs containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are being monitored. Pharmacies also are required to submit a list of purchase records to police, who then examine the lists for violations of the law.

It is up to customers to pay attention to their purchase amounts, and to check medication labels, Alexander said.

“If you take these products, you ought to know what’s in them,” she said.

While many people know that Sudafed, Actifed and Claritin-D contain pseudoephedrine, there are many more over-the-counter medications that also contain the key meth ingredient.

Ron Vencel, a pharmacist with JR Pharmacies in Terre Haute, said consumers should check all drug labels, and notes that any drug that has a “D” after it, for “decongestant,” has a likelihood of containing pseudoephedrine, or PSE.

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    March 12, 2010

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