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Local Retailers Help in Fight Against Drug Abuse
When people think about who is combatting our state’s drug problem, they generally think only of those directly involved – police officers, emergency responders, counselors, family and friends. However, what many might not realize is that our retail community, particularly our local pharmacies, play an important role as well.
In 2013, West Virginia tackled the state’s domestic methamphetamine problem by adopting the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx), an electronic logbook and database that helps retailers enforce laws blocking unlawful purchases of medicine containing pseudoephedrine (PSE) at the pharmacy counter. PSE, an ingredient found in common cold and allergy medicines, can be diverted by criminals to make meth. While imported Mexican meth is a real problem West Virginia must still solve, NPLEx has been remarkably effective in keeping potential criminals from purchasing excess amounts of PSE, and has decreased meth production in the state.
Law enforcement also uses NPLEx to monitor PSE purchases and stop criminals before they have the chance to make meth. West Virginia law enforcement’s efforts have been vital to this program’s success, but there are some criminals who are attempting to circumvent the law. Some criminals have adopted a practice called “smurfing,” by which individuals are recruited to purchase PSE for someone who has the intention of diversion, therefore avoiding limits on the amount that can be purchased.
Community organizations in West Virginia are putting a stop to smurfing. An “anti-smurfing” campaign seeking to educate West Virginians on the dangers and consequences of smurfing is underway statewide, including posters hanging in pharmacies and community organizations like YMCAs.
The success of NPLEx has been important in fighting back against drug abuse in West Virginia. It provides a sensible alternative to more extreme proposals seeking to require a prescription for medicines containing PSE. The retail community, through NPLEx and anti-smurfing efforts, continues to make progress in the battle against meth in West Virginia.
To learn more, visit StopMethNotMeds.com and Meth-KnowTheConsequences.com.