MADISON, Wis. - State lawmakers are looking to prevent methamphetamine production by expanding the tracking of some cold medicine purchases.
A bill proposed by Rep. Cody Horlacher, R-Mukwanago, would require pharmacists to track all pseudoephedrine purchases electronically and share that information with the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) database that follows these purchases across stores nationally.
"By utilizing this multi-state technology, law enforcement can better assess the patterns and trends related to the production of domestic meth," Horlacher told the Assembly Health Committee Wednesday.
Right now pharmacies across the state track purchases made in their own stores, are required to ask for ID and restrict the quantity of boxes purchased. Many of those pharmacies do that tracking with pen and paper, and the information is not shared between stores or across state lines.
"It's one single database for every transaction in an NPLEx store," said Jim Aquisto with APPRISS Health, who runs the database. "Shockingly, people will go across state lines to get drugs or something to make drugs that they're addicted to."
Use of the database will not cost the state or pharmacies anything because it is paid for by the companies that make pseudoephedrine. Aquisto told lawmakers that since 2011 the database has tracked 306 million boxes of pseudoephedrine products and has prevented 9.9 million purchases.
Community Pharmacy in Madison currently uses its own computer system to track psuedoephedrine purchases, according to Mark Jensen, pharmacy intern, and has done so for the past two years.
"We can't really track between stores, but if there was a statewide or nationwide database, we would be able to know if they bought Sudafed elsewhere and track that, and we would be able to deny the sale if they bought more than they were supposed to," Jensen said.
The Wisconsin attorney general sent testimony to the committee saying he was supportive of the effort, and a special agent with the Department of Justice explained that it could help them fight meth production.
"If all of a sudden tomorrow a group of individuals goes and buys a large quantity, it may be reasonable to assume a cook is about to happen," said DOJ agent Jeremiah Winscher.
Lawmakers will have to vote on the bill in committee before it would move forward.
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