Ohio would become the 18th state to adopt a real-time electronic interstate tracking system for over-the-counter medicines containing pseudoephedrine or ephedrine, key ingredients in the illegal drug methamphetamine, under a bill introduced by State Representatives Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) and Danny Bubp (R-Lake Waynoka).

“This bill is designed to give Ohio law enforcement an effective tool to battle meth production without impeding legitimate consumer access to essential over-the-counter cold and allergy medications,” said Representative Johnson, a practicing physician from Scioto County. “The online tracking system established by this bill is modeled after the systems already used in 17 other states. Consumers benefit from faster checkout times and law-breaking abusers are more effectively identified and prosecuted. We can make progress in the fight against meth with no additional cost to retailers, consumers, or taxpayers.”

Cold medications containing pseudoephedrine or ephedrine as the active ingredient are available over-the-counter. State and federal law limits individual purchases to 3.6 grams per day and 9 grams over a 30-day period. A 30-day supply of typical cold medicine (one pill per day) totals approximately 7.2 grams of active ingredient.

“Currently, many pharmacies track these purchases using paper logs. Paper logs provide no way for a pharmacist to know that a consumer has reached their legal limit, or to prevent an illegal purchase of cold medication,” said Representative Bubp, a former judge and prosecutor in Adams County. “Frequently, by the time law enforcement catches up with an illegal purchase, the active ingredients have already been converted to meth.”

The bill would require pharmacies to join the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx), a web-based database that links pharmacies throughout the country. NPLEx allows pharmacies to electronically capture the same consumer information currently captured on paper logs, check it instantly against the national database and, if appropriate, stop an illegal purchase at the point of sale. Only law enforcement officials have comprehensive access to the information contained in NPLEx.

According to Representative Johnson, “NPLEx saves consumers time at the pharmacy counter, is more secure than current paper logs and gives law enforcement a greatly enhanced tool for tracking illegal meth purchases and stopping meth production before it happens. There is no cost to taxpayers or law enforcement for implementing NPLEx.”

The seventeen states that have already implemented NPLEx legislation include Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington. California, Georgia and New York have NPLEx legislation under consideration. Arkansas and Oklahoma have independent electronic systems that are limited to tracking sales within each state only.

CVS, Meijer, and Rite Aid are already using NPLEx in their Ohio stores. Kroger and Kmart are also in the process of implementing the system.

The bill exempts the requirement to connect to NPLEx if a pharmacy does not have the ability to implement the system, for example if they cannot establish an Internet connection.


Anonymous said...

what is the bill number?

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