Friday, April 11, 2008

Cold medicine purchases may be tracked electronically

A Senate bill going to conference next week will make it easier for the Narcotics Enforment Division to track the sale of pseudoephedrine, a chemical in many cold and allergy medicines that is often used to make crystal meth.

SB2373 HD2 would amend an existing law by requiring pharmacies and retailers to maintain an electronic log of sales - instead of a written log - of pseudoephedrine and related products to be transmitted to the Department of Public Safety Narcotics Enforcement Division on a monthly basis.

Common products containing the chemical include Sudafed, Tylenol Cold, Advil Cold, Drixoval, Benadryl Allergy and Cold tablets, Robitussin Cold Sinus, and generic brands.
The current law under Act 171 enacted in 2006 requires purchasers to produce identification and sign a log when buying these types of products to ensure that no more than 3.6 grams is purchased per day and no more than 9 grams is purchased within 30 days.

In spite of the introduced regulations, large amounts of pseudoephedrine products can be obtained through "smurfing," a common form of diversion which involves the retail purchase of sub-threshold amounts by organized groups of individuals that either send in multiple purchasers into the same location or visit a large number of different locations.

Arguing in opposition, the American Civil Unions Society of Hawaii submitted testimony claiming the bill "violates purchasers' rights to privacy and due process because it forces purchasers to give out their private information and place themselves on a list of what essentially constitutes a list of criminal suspects in order to purchase these legal medications."
In current state and federal laws, purchasers are already required to provide such information when purchasing products.
The new law would make the process more efficient by closing the gap of reporting. Tracking and identifying repeat purchasers smurfing excessive amounts of methamphetamine precursors.

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