NPLEx gaining strength in battle against meth

More and more, the diversion of nonprescription pseudoephedrine is being halted at the pharmacy counter in real time thanks to tools like the National Precursor Log Exchange, funded entirely by the industry and now active in 17 states.

NPLEx is already operational in most of the states with the greatest number of operational meth labs — 78% of meth lab incidents in 2010 were concentrated across 11 states stretching from Alabama to Michigan, according to an El Paso Intelligence Center National Seizure System survey published in August. And NPLEx is active in all but three of those states. In all states where NPLEx is operational, 47,866 PSE sales were blocked each month over first quarter 2011, representing 4.1% of all sales. In non-NPLEx states over that quarter, 19,535 sales were blocked, representing 1.4% of sales, according to a Consumer Healthcare Products Association document. 


In the past year, as many as 16 states have been considering more radical legislation — mandating that common cough-cold products containing PSE be available only by prescription. It’s a move that significantly hampers legitimate consumer access to cough-cold relief and at the same time increases healthcare costs by requiring a doctor’s visit for the common cold, argued the CHPA. According to the CHPA, as many as 100 bills concerning the sale of PSE products have been filed across 24 states and 12 localities — including 26 bills to install electronic tracking mandates and 43 bills to re-classify PSE as prescription-only. 


The Virginia State Crime Commission last month identified four states where Rx-only laws are still under consideration: Alabama, Nevada, Oklahoma and Tennessee. All together, 19 states have electronic tracking mandates. An NPLEx bill in Georgia will be revisited in 2012. 


Rx-only legislation will likely return for debate in 2012 in four states: California, Hawaii, Kentucky and Oklahoma. In Michigan and Tennessee, Rx-only legislation currently stands before committees. In the remaining states where Rx-only legislation had been considered this year, that legislation is no longer active.