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Nplex System Aims To Curb Meth Production

8.23.16 – Paul Hackbarth, The Rolla Daily News

Several Missouri communities have passed ordinances to make pseudoephedrine — a key ingredient used to make methamphetamine — available by prescription only in hopes of curbing meth production.

However, there is another way that pharmaceutical and healthcare association representatives say helps keeps pseudoephedrine — the precursor ingredient —out of the hands of meth cooks.

The system is called NPLEx and stands for the National Precursor Log Exchange. A state lawmaker from this area as well as local pharmacy staff got a demonstration of how the system works Monday morning.

State Rep. Tom Hurst, of the 62nd District, joined Ron Fitzwater, CEO of the Missouri Pharmacy Association; Jim Gwinner, spokesperson for the Consumer Healthcare Production Association; and staff at Sinks Pharmacy’s 10th Street location in Rolla, including Dr. Jannel Flora, director of pharmacy operations, and Amy Mitchell, vice president of Sinks/Medley, for the demonstration.

NPLEx is a real-time, stop-sale system used in 33 states in the U.S., including Missouri, designed to block the sale of pseudoephedrine once a consumer reaches the gram limit allowed by law.

Under the system, once an individual has reached his or daily or monthly limit, the pharmacy or retail chain store would stop the illegal purchase of the cold and allergy medications containing pseudoephedrine.

Unless a city or county has an ordinance that requires medicine with pseudoephedrine to be purchased using a prescription, customers can get such medicine from behind the counter. The customer then takes the medicine to the cashier, who will ask for the customer’s driver’s license.

The license is scanned, and it will tell the cashier if the individual has reached his or her daily, monthly or annual limit. If the customer has, the cashier would not be able sell the medicine.

“The NPLEx system is a useful tool helping Missouri combat the dangers of meth,” said Fitzwater. “Law-abiding citizens are able to purchase cold and allergy medications when needed without a prescription, while the system helps keep the key ingredient needed to produce meth from falling into the wrong hands.”

According to figures provided by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the NPLEx system kept 20,155 boxes of pseudoephedrine from being illegally purchased through the end of June of this year.

A state statute, RSMo. 195.417, authorizes this NPLEx system, Gwinner and Fitzwater noted. The law was passed in 2009 and was implemented in 2010, with the system going fully operational by 2011, Gwinner explained.

Gwinner said he wanted to invite local legislators to see the system demonstrated because many current state lawmakers did not get a chance to vote on the bill in 2009, or they may not be aware of the program.

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