MASON COUNTY — Purchasing over-the-counter (OTC) cold medicine for the purpose of making meth may’ve just gotten a little harder in West Virginia thanks to an online database.
Starting Jan. 1, all pharmacies in West Virginia began using the National Precursor Log Exchange Program (NPLEx) which requires a driver’s license to purchase certain OTC cold medications which have commonly been used in making meth.
The pharmacist enters in the driver’s license number and in real time is told whether or not the customers has already purchased their legal limit. Lawmakers have placed that purchase limit at 7.6 grams per month. If the customer has already purchased their limit at any pharmacy in West Virginia, the NPLEx system will alert the pharmacist who can refuse the sale. In addition, law enforcement has access to this database and can track sales in real time, alerting them to suspicious purchases or who is attempting to make the purchase.
“If a customer exceeds their limit, the program flags them,” Craig Kimble, director of pharmacy and clinical services for Fruth Pharmacy said. “This program increases the tools pharmacists and law enforcement have to combat methamphetamine production and abuse.”
Fruth Pharmacy, one of the most established pharmacies in Mason County and the entire area, implemented the new program on Jan. 1 along with their fellow retailers in the Mountain State.
“This program creates a benefit to customers as it does allow customers to continue to purchase the medication they need while allowing pharmacies to comply with regulations to help curb the purchase of those products that people choose to use for meth related activities.” Lynne Fruth, president and chairman of the board for Fruth Pharmacy said. “Fruth Pharmacy always strives to do its part in helping prevent the proliferation of meth activities by following the laws.”
In addition to West Virginia, the NPLEx tracking system is used in several other states which all feed into the same database.
The National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI) provides NPLEx at no cost to states that have legislation requiring real-time electronic monitoring of precursor purchases, and agree to use the system.