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Oklahoma officials credit pseudoephedrine monitoring program for fewer meth labs

Updated:
For about a year now, the State of Oklahoma has been teaming with neighboring states to monitor sales of pseudoephedrine.  There's a limit of how much a person can purchase, and an automatic system can tell if that limit has been reached, regardless of from which state the pseudoephedrine was purchased.  

90,000 sales of pseudoephedrine, a decongestant, have been blocked at store registers in Oklahoma within the past year.

"Some patients may be upset by that," says Michael Frye, a pharmacist at Osborn Drug in Miami.  "But they do understand the reasoning for all of this."

Oklahoma is one of many states in the nation trying to decrease methamphetamine production.  Pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient in the illegal drug.  Police say the only difference in chemical composition between pseudoephedrine and methamphetamine is oxygen.

"You control pseudoephedrine, you control the number of meth labs," says Eddie Wyant, Oklahoma District 13 Attorney.

Wyant says police in Northeast Oklahoma have found about 20 meth labs in the area within the past year, down from about 40.  Wyant believes there's a correlation between this and the pseudoephedrine sales monitoring system used by pharmacies in Oklahoma and neighboring states.  

When a person tries to buy pseudoephedrine, the bar code on their driver's license is scanned.

"If I was over my limit, then it (computer message) would pop up saying I was not eligible to purchase.  Throughout a weekly basis, we'll see maybe one or two rejected claims when we run it through our point of sale system," says Frye.

Police say though not every one of these rejected sales come from a meth addict or producer, meth crime has certainly decreased.  But Wyant believes those crimes could decrease further.

"What does the public want to do?  I mean, what is the appropriate number of meth labs for your state," says Wyant.

"Wyant is part of a continued push in Oklahoma to make pseudoephedrine a prescription drug.  

The daily purchase limit of pseudoephedrine in Oklahoma is 3.6 grams, the monthly limit is 7.2 grams, and the yearly limit is 60 grams.
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