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SELLERSBURG, Ind. (WDRB) -- Drug Enforcement Administration statistics show Indiana had the second-highest number of meth labs in the nation last year. Officials say that number has increased. Police believe a new drug on the market could crack down on those numbers.
Although it officially hit the shelves in Dec. 2012, Nexafed has more recently been popping up at pharmacies in Kentucky and Indiana. Police and state officials believe it means big things for battling the meth epidemic.
"You can see the cycle really never ends and the numbers continue to grow," said Sgt. Jerry Goodin of the Indiana State Police.
Indiana state officials see what meth making does to their communities.
"Meth is really considered a scourge on society," said Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller.
Zoeller said the drug tears apart families and affects more than the individual who uses the drug. He said most of the users also produce to fund their habit.
"These places for methamphetamine production -- places where people are using their homes and their homes catch on fire, children are killed. Children are burnt," said Goodin.
Though it is regulated or "scheduled," folks can get their hands on the key ingredient for meth at the drug store.
"Without pseudoephedrine, you cannot make meth," Goodin said.
Nexafed, a drug now on some shelves, contains pseudoephedrine. Officials from Acura Pharmaceuticals say special "impede" technology disrupts the extraction and conversion of pseudoephedrine, making it virtually impossible for cooks to turn it into meth.
"We have been following this since the makers of Oxycontin made a product that you could not manipulate Oxycontin," Goodin said. "We know when they came out with that pill, it slowed our problem down with Oxycontin."
Police said they are hoping more stores opt to carry Nexafed.
"If they cannot get the pseudoephedrine, they cannot have a meth lab," Goodin said. He said he believed that the technology was promising and called it, "a light at the end of the tunnel."
"We are really excited about it, to be flat honest with you," Goodin said.
Those who work for the company who created the drug say they want customers to treat colds, not criminals.
"Pharmacists tells us that Sudafed is the most effective nasal decongestant," said Brad Rivet of Acura Pharmaceuticals.
"We want to make sure that pseudo ephedrine remains available to consumers," he said. "At the same time, we know there's a problem with methamphetamine abuse."
Rivet said there were other impede-technology drugs on the market. He said Acura has done more studies beyond what the Food and Drug Administration requires to show Nexafed's similarities and effectiveness compared to Sudafed. He said they used FDA bioequivalent standards to test the drug in studies and only Nexafed matches the profile of the drug.
"We wanted to develop a formulation that still provides that efficacy that consumers need so that pharmacists can still recommend it, having the confidence that they are doing something to address the problem in their communities," Rivet said.
Rivet said the drug was in the making for around five years before it ever hit the shelves.
Goodin said that while it may not guarantee a decrease in usage, police say it will decrease production.
"We know that's going to reduce the number of meth labs," Goodin said. "Now is it going to reduce our meth problem? Only time will tell."
The Indiana Attorney General agreed that the availability of the drug at pharmacies could help curb the production problem, though users might still be able to obtain it through other pipelines. Zoeller said most of the pipelines came up from Mexico.
"We can't mandate it, but it is something that I think holds a lot of promise," Zoeller said.
Goodin said the environmental hazards, health problems and other issues are in addition to the billions of dollars spent on cleaning up the meth labs. He said the new promising technology would make a difference in the amount of meth labs.
"With these labs going down, that's billions that can be spent somewhere else," Goodin said.
For information on where to find Nexafed, click here.