South Carolina Helped By Drug Companies In Tracking Decongestants

South Carolina Helped By Drug Companies In Tracking Decongestants

03/12/2011

As part of a crackdown on “smurfing,” a way of collecting key ingredients in the manufacture of methamphetamine, drug companies are helping state law enforcement offices track the sales of a popular over-the-counter decongestant.

Authorities hope that the tracking system funded by the pharmaceutical industry will turn the tide in their favour in the protracted battle with methamphetamine cooks.

Drug companies have been advocating an expansion of the tracking system amid mounting calls to require doctors’ prescriptions for pseudoephedrine, the legal decongestant that is also utilized to manufacture meth.

South Carolina is one of the ten states that passed laws which adopted NPLEx, the system used to track pseudoephedrine. Prescription for the drug, which is often sold as cold and allergy medicine, is already required in two states.

The decongestant continues to be available even without a prescription in South Carolina, although it is required that they are kept behind the counter.

Since 2006, pharmacies have been keeping records of customers buying the drug, but they do did not have any means of sharing this information until recently.

NPLEx, or short for National Precursor Log Exchange, transmits all the purchases in one database, making it easy to track the sales of different pharmacies.

When a customer tries to purchase the drug more than the legal limit, the retailers will receive a recommendation to deny the sale, while a message will be sent to the State Law Enforcement Division.

According to SLED records, sales of over 6,000 boxes of pseudoephedrine have been blocked ever since the system became active in the state last January 1.

WRITTEN BY:

blakeh@wellsdrew.com