KANCO PHARMACIES: ; Drug Sales Spike; Stores Sell More Pseudoephedrine Than Others in W.Va

By Messina, Lawrence | The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), March 30, 2012 | Go to article overview

KANCO PHARMACIES: ; Drug Sales Spike; Stores Sell More Pseudoephedrine Than Others in W.Va


Messina, Lawrence, The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)


Four Kanawha County pharmacies lead West Virginia in the tracked sale of cold remedies that can be used illegally to make methamphetamine, according to data from a multi-state computer system that will become mandatory through wide-ranging, anti-drug abuse legislation signed Thursday by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

The four Rite-Aid locations sell six to seven times as much pseudoephedrine products as similarly sized pharmacies elsewhere in the state. The Associated Press identified the locations in South Charleston, Cross Lanes, Sissonville and Charleston's West Side by comparing tracking data provided by the State Police with Board of Pharmacy records.

Kanawha County is also by far the home to the most illegal meth labs busted by troopers or other law enforcement agencies that report their finds to the State Police. Nearly half of the 229 labs that made the department's list last year were in Kanawha County. Nicholas County had the next-highest number, at 13. Kanawha County also hosted 23 of the 65 labs busted between Jan. 1 and earlier this month.

The stores aren't doing anything wrong, said Lt. Mike Goff, the State Police's clandestine laboratory training and response coordinator. They follow existing state law by selling pseudoephedrine products from behind their counters, requiring identification from purchasers and then recording that information. They are also obeying the current individual purchase limit of 9 grams per month, Goff said.

These remedies are typically available in doses of between 30 mg and 240 mg, with the high end to be taken only once every 24 hours. Goff said the most common package is a 2.4g box with 10 pills each with 240mg of pseudoephedrine.

But the State Police believe some of these cold remedies are ending up at meth labs. Goff said the top locations are selling 600 to 800 boxes of 24-hour strength a month, while other stores that fill the same number of prescriptions each month are selling 100 boxes. The tracking data suggests the four locations also rank high nationally for such sales, Goff said.

"There's no other reason for that much more Sudafed to be sold over here as compared to there," Goff said. "It's going somewhere. It's not all going to people with sinus conditions."

The new law signed by Tomblin will tighten the purchase limits as of June 8 to 3.6 grams per day, 7.2 grams per month and 48 grams per year. The caps do not apply to prescribed medicines. As of Jan. 1, all retailers must enter their cold remedy sales into the National Precursor Log Exchange, an anti-meth tracking system now used by at least 19 states including neighboring Kentucky. …

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