New meth-fighting tool gets mixed reviews

By Melanie Posey

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A new program aimed at cracking down on the sale of Pseudoephedrine, a drug used when making meth, is getting mixed reviews from pharmacists. Beginning Jan.1, pharmacies had the option of either making Pseudoephedrine available only through prescription or signing onto the National Precursor Log Exchange, or NPLEx program.

The NPLEx system provides real time tracking of Pseudoephedrine sales across the country.   When a customer comes in to buy the drug, pharmacists will enter their driver's license number and the product they are purchasing into the program. The program will block the sale if the purchase exceeds the Alabama limit of six grams in a 30-day period.

"I think it's a great thing," says Alex Sproule of Homewood Pharmacy. "It's a better system than we have had because now we're connected.  So instead of wondering if they're going to store A,B,C or D, we are starting to see they're limited to how many stores they can go to."

But Jerry Newman, who owns Harbin Pharmacy in Mountain Brook, chose to go with the option of limiting the drug to a prescription purchase.

"I think it's a good thing to limit it," Newman says. "My question is why don't we just require it by prescription like we do other drugs abused in our country?"

Newman says so far, his customers have been very positive about the new rule. And he does realize it will make it harder for those who need it for legitimate health care reasons.

"But we think in the total picture, it's the only way to do it," Newman adds.

Both he and Sproule believe limiting the drug to abusers is a service they provide. But they are also realistic, believing anyone who wants Pseudoephedrine bad enough will do anything, including circumventing the system, to get it.

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