Pharmacists Prevent Illicit Pseudoephedrine Sales

February 26, 2015
Jeannette Y. Wick, RPh, MBA, FASCP

Four states are reporting recent progress on preventing pseudoephedrine diversion after implementing a real-time, stop-sale tracking system.

Four states are reporting recent progress on preventing pseudoephedrine diversion after implementing a real-time, stop-sale tracking system.

According to the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI), a non-profit organization that helps stakeholders prevent drug abuse and diversion, Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, and West Virginia all use the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx), which automatically blocks unlawful OTC pseudoephedrine purchases at the point of sale and helps flag potential methamphetamine offenders for law enforcement.

Pharmacists play an integral role in implementing and maintaining NPLEx, which has been available to states since 2009.

“Pharmacists and law enforcement officers have been able to work together to stop and arrest those who attempt to purchase more pseudoephedrine than legally allowed,” NADDI’s executive director said in a congratulatory statement to all stakeholders. “The reduction in illegal pseudoephedrine purchases helped lead to a big reduction in meth labs in 2014."

That year, NPLEx blocked illicit sales of more than 150,960 boxes of pseudoephedrine-containing medication across Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, and West Virginia, keeping more than 383,403 grams of pseudoephedrine out of the hands of potential methampethamine cooks that year.

As a result of stopping potential abuse, sales of pseudoephedrine-containing products in Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, and West Virginia were 13.8%, 7.6%, 10.8%, and 29.7% lower in 2014 than the previous year, respectively.

The year-end 2014 NPLEx data also shows that the number of individual purchasers of pseudoephedrine has fallen significantly in all 4 states, with West Virginia showing the largest year-over-year decline (19.6%). NPLEx implementation produced similar results in Tennessee in 2014.

In addition to better tracking and real-time, stop-sale interventions, better consumer education and the availability of a tamper-proof product are expected to further reduce pseudoephedrine availability for illicit endeavors.