Pharmacies Attempt To Tackle Meth Manufacturing Problem

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With the growing problem of methamphetamine in the region, some stores are making efforts to curb the problem by placing restrictions on products commonly used in the manufacturing of the highly-addictive drug.

One of the common ingredients used to make meth is pseudoephedrine, which is found in a number of popular allergy medications.

This week, Fruth Pharmacies announced that that they are stocking a new drug called Nexafed that makes meth manufacturing difficult to impossible.

According to the Associated Press, “When abusers try to extract the pseudoephedrine necessary for meth (from Nexafed), the tablets break down into a sticky gel that thwarts extraction.”

The AP reports that Nexafed has only been on the market since December, but is already carried in about 1,400 pharmacies nationwide.

Fruth Pharmacy has 27 stores in West Virginia and Ohio, including on United Lane in Athens and Watkins Street in Nelsonville.

Lynne Fruth, president and chairwoman of Fruth Pharmacy, told the AP that for now, the plan at her stores is to remove all other pseudoephedrine products at the 30-milligram dosage level and stock only Nexafed. Pseudoephedrine products at other dosage levels will still be available. She said that when Nexafed offers other dosage levels, she plans to stock those as well.

“We feel as a company that we need to do the best thing for our customers and our community,” Fruth said. “We’re not going to be part of the problem.”

Dave Gill, owner and pharmacist at Gill’s Pharmacy in McArthur, said that his store carries Nexafed. He said the new drug is a wonderful idea, but that it doesn’t replace the higher strength pseudoephedrine products such as 120-milligram 12-hour relief and 240-milligram 24-hour relief allergy medications.

Gill said he’s seen people come into his store who are clearly purchasing the products for other people in order to manufacture meth. However, as long as people are staying within their allotted limit of pseudoephedrine purchases, there’s not much that can be done.

“You have your suspicions, but there’s not a whole lot you can do,” he said.

In 2006, a federal law was passed that limits a person’s pseudoephedrine and ephedrine purchases to 3.6 grams per day or 7.2 grams per 30 days, according to Gill. But it wasn’t until this past spring that the state of Ohio joined the online nationwide database to track such purchases.

Gill said before the state joined the national database, people were able to purchase up to the legal limit from several pharmacies in one day. Joining the national database allows pharmacists to check to see if an individual has made pseudoephedrine purchases at other locations.

According to Gill, pseudoephedrine is more of an issue today than ephedrine, which used to be a common ingredient in diet pills. He said those products have largely been taken off the market.

When asked about the trend of pseudoephedrine purchases, Gill says that his store sees fewer purchases after law enforcement agencies shut down meth labs in Vinton County, but that purchases slowly pick up again until the next bust.

Pharmacy chain CVS has also adopted policies in an attempt to stop meth production, however one policy was met with negative feedback from customers.

CVS had enacted a policy that required customers to show ID to purchase products containing acetone such as nail polish remover. But the chain recently revisited the policy after outcry from customers.

On Aug. 14, CVS posted on its company Facebook page that purchases of products containing acetone, including nail polish remover, will no longer require an ID, except in the state of Hawaii.

“We will also continue to require ID for the purchase of iodine products in California, Hawaii and West Virginia,” the post said.