State officials, with the cooperation of pharmacies statewide, have taken steps to stem the tide of methamphetamine production by introducing a computerized tracking system of how much pseudoephedrine cold medication has been sold.
On Monday, former state Rep. Stanley Cox and Dan Shaul, state director of the Missouri Grocers Association, hosted a demonstration at Wood’s Supermarket in Sedalia of real-time, stop-sale technology that is helping law enforcement keep precursor ingredients out of the hands of meth cooks.
“Pharmacists are required by law to keep track of the sales of pseudoephedrine, the active ingredient in over-the-counter cold medications that unfortunately is also a prime ingredient in methamphetamine production,” said Jim Gwinner, of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. “This new web-based computer application NPLEx (National Precursor Log Exchange) has made tracking these sales much easier for pharmacists.”
Missouri is one of 32 states that has adopted NPLEx as a way to ensure access to these important medicines by the law-abiding public, but prevent the illegal sales of these medicines to some criminals who may seek to use them when trying to manufacture methamphetamines.
Enforcing monthly and yearly purchase limits is essentially the same thing as blocking the sale to consumers who have reached their purchase limits. Law enforcement and prosecutors also use the system to detect suspicious purchase patterns as they seek to identify, prosecute and convict suspected meth-makers.
“This software requires the buyer to provide his or her identification and that information is automatically recorded by NPLEx,” Gwinner said. “Those purchases follow the consumer where ever he or she goes.”
In years past, meth producers were able to obtain pseudoephedrine by traveling to different counties and surrounding states when they reached their limit at a particular retailer. NPLEx prevents such abuse. NETPLEx tracks daily, monthly and annual limits for individual sales of the medication. Tracking of pseudoephedrine has resulted in a decline of meth labs by 40 percent nationwide. Most methamphetamine is supplied to the United States by drug cartels from Mexico, according to Gwinner.
In 2015, the NPLEx system in Missouri helped block the sale of 45,375 boxes of PSE, keeping 117,578 grams of PSE from potentially being used illegally.
Editor Tim Epperson can be reached at 660-530-0146.