New program tracks sale of meth ingredients

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 19, 2010

VIDALIA — A new program began this week that will affect who and when products containing pseudoephedrine in them can be purchased.

The National Precursor Log Exchange — called the NPLEx — electronic system tracks the sale of over-the-counter medications that have pseudoephedrine, an ingredient used in the cooking of methamphetamines.

Louisiana required compliance at the pharmacy level starting Tuesday.

When a person tries to buy more than the legally allowed amount of pseudoephedrine products in a given month, the log tells the pharmacist not to sell it to them.

Pseudoephedrine is used in some cold medicines.

Reeves Pharmacy Pharmacist Kim Farmer said the pharmacy is signed up for the program, but has not sold any of the products on the watch list since it started.

The requirements of the new database are similar to those that pharmacies have been following since 2006, Farmer said.

“We already keep a book where you have to record every (pseudoephedrine product) you sold,” she said.

In the new system — as with the old — the pharmacy will take the name, driver’s license number, address and phone number of the person buying the product, Farmer said.

The difference is that the NPLEx is linked with a statewide database, essentially allowing all pharmacists to see if a person has exceeded the monthly allotment of 9,000 milligrams in purchases across the state.

Vaughan’s City Drug Pharmacist Chris Vaughan said he does not think the new system will affect the customer experience.

“We are just going to have to take the information they give us and put it into the system,” he said.

The system was pioneered in Kentucky, and is reportedly used to stop the sale of more than 5,000 pseudoephedrine products that exceed legal limits every month.

Louisiana is the second state to use the system as its electronic tracking program, according to a news release from the Louisiana State Police.

Mississippi passed a law requiring a prescription for products containing pseudoephedrine earlier this year, which went into effect June 1.