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Meth incidents down, lawmaker points to NPLEx system as cause

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Members of the Missouri legislature and the Missouri Pharmacy Association gathered at the Whaley’s East End Pharmacy Tuesday morning for a demonstration of the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx), which is being used to fight back against Missouri’s meth problem.
The NPLEx system looks to curb meth production by keeping pseudoephedrine out of the hands of meth cooks by monitoring the purchases and blocking the sale once a consumer reaches the gram limit allowed. NPLEx, created by Appriss, is a real-time, stop-sale system that is being used in 33 states across the U.S.
Under the system, once an individual has reached his or daily or monthly limit, the pharmacy or retail store would stop the illegal purchase of the cold and allergy medications containing pseudoephedrine.

Reps. Jason Chipman, Travis Fitzwater, and Mike Bernskoetter, along with the GOP candidate for the 50th District Missouri House seat, Sara Walsh, all attended Tuesday to watch Jim Gwinner’s demonstration of the NPLEx system.

The way it works is that a customer seeking to purchase pseudoephedrine will be asked to present their driver’s license to the cashier. The license is scanned, and it will tell the cashier if the individual has reached his or her daily, monthly or annual limit. If the customer has, the cashier would not be able to sell the medicine.
According to figures provided by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the NPLEx system helped block the sale of 37,089 boxes of PSE, keeping 96,580 grams from potentially being used illegally in Missouri during 2016.
This data shows an 18 percent reduction in blocks of sales and over a five percent reduction in unique purchasers compared to 2015, which supporters say indicates that people attempting to illegally purchase the pseudoephedrine for meth production are being discouraged from doing so.
Meth labs in Missouri have been on the decline, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol data. In 2016, 207 meth incidents were reported in the state – 51 of those stemmed from Jefferson County. Those numbers are down from the 507 meth incidents reported 2015, 1,045 in 2014, and 1,496 in 2013.

“In 2016, NPLEx has continued to be an important resource for those at the front lines fighting Missouri’s war on meth production,” Representative Kurt Bahr, R-O’Fallon, said. “As our state continues to make progress in this battle, we must also recognize the changing threat. Meth lab seizures across the country are going down as more and more meth is being imported from Mexico. We must remain diligent in our efforts, but the progress we have made so far is promising.”

The system, first implemented in Missouri in 2011, doesn’t just cover the purchases made in Missouri. Gwinner (pictured) explained that the system can work across state lines, in each state that implemented NPLEx.
He also said that the system allows law enforcement to more closely monitor the purchases, as they can view past history purchases and receive alerts on sales to individuals who have been identified as suspects, all done in real-time.
Missouri Pharmacy Association CEO Ron Fitzwater pointed out that the system comes with no cost since even rural stores only need internet access to log into the web-based system.
“It’s free of charge to state governments, and knowing the budget problems in our state, it’s nice to have a program that is not only beneficial but is available to our state,” Fitzwater said.