Officials from the Missouri Pharmacy Association held a demonstration of a new cold medicine tracking system at D&H Pharmacy in Columbia on the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) on Thursday. The system has been implemented in 32 states since 2011 and is an effort to stem the production of methamphetamine.
The NPLEx system aims to inhibit the purchase of large amounts of cold and allergy medications that contain pseudoephedrine (PSE) by tracking the amount of individual purchasing. It is used by law enforcement to identify and block criminals who attempt to make meth out of PSE products.
“It’s real-time, and only takes a few seconds to put the information in,” said Ron Fitzwater, CEO of the Missouri Pharmacy Association and D&H Pharmacy. “If the person has purchased more than a daily or a monthly limit, then it sends a message back to the pharmacies and negates the sale.”
Missouri led meth production across the United States for more than a decade until 2014. The NPLEx system is the most efficient way in terms of controlling illegal PSE purchase so far, according to Fitzwater.
“The NPLEx program protects consumer privacy while blocking criminal behavior which is what we’re trying to accomplish,” Fitzwater said. “And let law enforcement clearly see suspect activity.”
According to the Missouri Pharmacy Association, the NPLEx system has successfully blocked the sale of 25,119 boxes of PSE in Missouri from being purchased illegally through the second quarter of 2015.
“It is having a positive impact on decreasing the number of meth labs,” Fitzwater said.
Erica Hopkins, the pharmacist-in-charge at D&H Pharmacy in Columbia, said the system made it easier to track people by inappropriate sales.
“We used to have to write it down on a piece of paper, and the officers will come and see your log,” Hopkins said. “It was all like done and past tense. So it was kind of like sales happening and they would try to go back and investigate, which made it hard.”