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New Pseudoephedrine Med Law Takes Effect

By Emily Cassulo
By ecassulo@wbbjtv.com

A state-wide change that just went into effect this year could mean you will need a prescription the next time you buy cold medicine.

This change is due to a bill the state legislature amended last year. It creates an online database for pharmacies to record when and how much pseudoephedrine you buy.

It also states if pharmacies do not participate in the online database, they must require a prescription.

Workers at Eddie's Pharmacy in Trenton said they opted out of using the state's online database because it is too much trouble.

"My number one goal is to make sure somebody gets the right medication," said pharmacist Clint Sturgeon. "I don't want to have to stop what I'm doing to go check a database to see if I can sell this person a decongestant."

Because of that, the pharmacy can only sell products containing pseudoephedrine or ephedrine if the customer has a prescription.

When using the National Precursor Log Exchange, aka NPLEx, pharmacists put the customers' information into the database to see if they have exceeded the limit.

"The limit is 9,000 milligrams, or 9 grams in 30 days, which is quite a lot of pills," said pharmacist Bill Richardson, who owns Health Care Pharmacy in Jackson. "In fact, most pills are 30 milligrams per pill so you can see that that's several pills."

Sturgeon thinks the database will slow down sales a bit, but will not eliminate the illegal use of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine unless the drugs are made available by prescription only.

"Usually the people who are buying large quantities of Sudafed to make methamphetamine will have multiple people that they send into a store, even within the same day to avoid one person being attached to all these sales," Sturgeon said.

Richardson believes it is a great idea.

"Anything that's going to curb the use of methamphetamine is good," he said.

Both Sturgeon and Richardson said they often recommend other products that do not have pseudoephedrine in them that also help with congestion symptoms.