Relief Pharmacist 
Retail pharmacies are becoming the new front line in North Carolina’s war against methamphetamine.

Pharmacists would need to check a national database of pseudoephedrine product purchases before cold and allergy sufferers can buy the products under a bill now awaiting Gov. Bev Perdue’s signature. Lawmakers ratified the bill on Thursday. The proposed electronic tracking system is an effort to curb pseudoephedrine’s availability to those who make the active ingredient in many cold pills into the illegal drug methamphetamine.

North Carolina law already restricts sales of products containing pseudoephedrine. Such products can only be sold behind a pharmacy counter and are limited to no more than two packages at one time and no more than three packages within 30 days. Purchasers must also show a photo ID and sign a log.

Methamphetamine cooks make the drug from stacks of blister packs purchased legally by buyers who go from one pharmacy to another. With the electronic tracking system, called the National Precursor Log Exchange or NPLEx, retailers will know whether a buyer has reached the limit of pseudoephedrine purchases. If that’s the case, the retailer can stop the sale. Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office said that more than a dozen states, including South Carolina, Florida and West Virginia, participate in NPLEx.

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