How Well Do Pseudoephedrine Tracking Databases Work? - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

How Well Do Pseudoephedrine Tracking Databases Work?


How well does a drug database help lead law enforcement to making busts? New information in a TV-6 investigation on a suspected meth lab in a Davenport daycare. Police documents show a woman who ran the daycare tried to buy pseudoephedrine 40 times since June 2012 and was blocked from getting it two dozen times.

Pseudoephedrine purchases are logged across the country. About half of all states require electronic databases where a pharmacies report customers' information and how much of the drug they're buying. People that buy too much are red flagged. But, even if it's for the wrong reasons, it could take time to lead to an arrest.

If you buy a box of Sudogest, or some other brand of pseudoephedrine medicine, the pharmacist logs your license and how much of the drug you're buying. How much you can buy in a given day or over the course of 30 days varies state to state. If a customer gets something other than a green check mark in the database when they attempt to make a purchase, that raises a red flag.

"It's very serious. I think that we are the last step as pharmacists before the medication gets out in the community," said Anh Nguyen, a pharmacist at the Main and Locust Pharmacy in Davenport.

Pharmacies can deny purchases immediately. The records are something law enforcement keeps an eye on, but they also get tips when something is questionable. "If we see a pattern of abuse we'd notify officials of it," added Nguyen.

Quad City Metropolitan Enforcement Group Director Kevin Winslow says the database often gives them a starting point in meth investigations, and usually an ending point. "What we do is just put that in an on-going investigation file and normally those names will resurface in some of our meth investigations," said Winslow.

But someone who is over their pseudoephedrine purchase limit, even denied multiple times, may not be immediately tied to a possible meth production. "It's going to get them red flagged for sure, but when you're talking about a population of the quad cities that's 370 thousand people it may take some time," added Winslow.

Once a possible co-conspirator is tracked down it can be used as proof of involvement in what's often an very organized production of a volatile drug. "It doesn't matter if they're there when the cook is going on, they're going to be charged with conspiracy to manufacture so they're looking at the same amount of time," said Winslow.

The Combat Meth Act limiting the sale of pseudoephedrine products took effect in 2006. Iowa started its electronic database requirement in 2010 and it happened in Illinois just last year.