JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri selected a company Monday to develop a database for tracking purchases of cold medicine that can be used to make methamphetamine.
Since 2005, Missouri has kept a paper log that law officers can check later to track purchases of cold medications containing pseudoephedrine. A 2008 law required the development of electronic logs allowing real-time monitoring, but plans to expand the tracking system stalled because it was not funded.
Appriss Inc., a technology company based in Louisville, Ky., was selected to develop the new electronic monitoring system. Appriss already operates a system that links 18,000 pharmacies in nearby states.
Gov. Jay Nixon said Monday that pharmaceutical companies have agreed to pay for developing and operating the new database. Nixon, a Democrat, said real-time tracking of cold medication purchases would help law officers and ensure Missourians can buy medicine needed for legitimate purposes.
People who are rejected when trying to buy cold medication would receive a receipt with Appriss' phone number and instructions to call the company for an explanation. The new system would be designed to spot fake identification, to flag multiple people buying medicine and reporting the same address and other suspicious activity.
The drug companies-funded database comes as several Missouri lawmakers have proposed requiring a doctor's prescription before someone could buy cold medications that contain pseudoephedrine such as Sudafed, Claritin-D and Aleve Cold & Sinus.
For the ninth straight year in 2009, Missouri had the most meth lab incidents in the nation. Incidents include includes meth lab busts but also any documented evidence of meth-making.
Missouri had 1,774 meth lab incidents in 2009, which was up 19 percent from 2008 when there were 1,487. Indiana had the second-most meth lab incidents in 2009 with 1,096.
"Meth consumption continues to be a problem that devastates families and even whole communities in Missouri," Nixon said. "This database will be another important step toward cutting off meth makers at the source."
Appriss was selected to develop the tracking system by a committee that represented health officials, pharmacies, law officers and prosecutors.
The president of a trade group for the makers of over-the-counter drugs applauded Missouri for developing an electronic database instead of requiring prescriptions for cold medicine.
"This system offers an effective solution to reducing meth labs and is the only solution that works across state lines to stop meth cooks from crossing borders to make illegal purchases," said Linda Suydam, the president of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association."
Oregon blocked the sale of the pseudoephedrine-based medicines without a prescription through a law that took effect in 2006. In 2005, there were 141 meth lab incidents in Oregon, and in 2009, there were nine through late October.
Some Missouri cities have acted on their own and now require prescriptions for those cold medications. For example, in particularly hard-hit Franklin County, Union and Washington, Mo., enacted local ordinances requiring prescriptions for certain cold and allergy medications. Local officials said problems from meth had gotten bad enough to do something new.