Black says ‘I Hate Meth’ Act working
Posted: Wednesday, March 14, 2012 7:00 pm
By: Baeteena Black, Tennessee Pharmacists Association
Last year, Gov. Bill Haslam and the Tennessee General Assembly passed the “I Hate Meth Act,” a landmark piece of legislation which implemented tougher penalties for meth criminals.
The new law was also a win for consumers as it put in place real-time, stop-sale technology that protects law-abiding citizens’ access to safe and effective medicines containing pseudoephedrine (PSE) – such as Advil Cold & Sinus, Allegra D, Claritin-D, Mucinex D, and Sudafed – and stops illegal sales of PSE right at the point of sale.
This newly implemented electronic technology, called the National Precursor Log Exchange or “NPLEx,” allows pharmacists to refuse an illegal sale, based on purchases made anywhere in the state or even in neighboring states, and it also provides law enforcement with a critical tool to help them more aggressively track down and arrest meth criminals.
The Tennessee Pharmacists Association has supported NPLEx as an initiative that strikes the right balance between allowing patients access to these medicines and stopping criminals, and based on impressive new “blocking” data released this month, our organization will continue to do so. Here is how the new law and NPLEx works: Consumers must speak with a pharmacist or pharmacy intern and present identification to purchase medicines containing PSE. The pharmacist adds the purchase and the consumer to the NPLEx system. The purchase will be blocked if a consumer is listed on the meth offender registry or if the consumer’s purchase exceeds the legal limit of 3.6 grams per day or more than 9 grams in 30 days.
NPLEx became fully operational in Tennessee in January 2012, and in just one month, the technology successfully blocked the sale of more than 4,900 illegal boxes of PSE, keeping more than 13,000 grams off the street.There are those who believe that the war against meth can be fought only by restricting everyone’s access to common cold and seasonal allergy medicines. While prescription-only proponents are well-intentioned, they overlook just how burdensome such a requirement would be for Tennessee consumers, businesses, doctors, health care providers and the state as a whole.
A prescription mandate forces an individual to take time off from work, call their medical provider, and pick up a prescription to obtain a cold and allergy medicine containing PSE which is approved by the FDA as safe and effective for over the counter use. This unnecessary restriction leads to higher health care costs, delay in treatment and lost wages for the consumer, lower productivity for companies and lost tax revenues for the state. Let’s make sure NPLEx is given a chance to work and that we’re targeting criminals, not law-abiding Tennesseans. The early results certainly seem to be encouraging and merit our support.