HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy announced today the release of 2015 data showing a rise in the number of blocked sales of ephedrine and related drugs used in the production of the illegal drug methamphetamine.
"The Department of Health believes it is vital to ensure that drugs such as ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are being used properly and not to fuel drug abuse in our local communities," said Secretary Murphy. "The National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) continues to be a valuable tool in assisting pharmacies and retailers as well as law enforcement in blocking illegal transactions."
The NPLEx system is a real-time stop-sale system that tracks the sale of over-the-counter (OTC) cold and allergy medications containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine (PSE). These OTC products can be used to produce the highly addictive drug methamphetamine. The NPLEx system assists retailers and law enforcement by providing real-time tracking and alerts when individuals attempt to purchase more than the daily legal limit (3.6 grams) of PSE.
In 2015, the NPLEx system in Pennsylvania helped block the sale of 100,800 boxes of PSE, preventing 266,346 grams of the drugs from potentially being used for illegal purposes. In 2014, the system blocked the sale of 99,948 boxes of PSE.
Pennsylvania's Act 53 of 2013 requires all pharmacies and retailers in the commonwealth that sell over the counter cold and allergy medications containing ephedrine and/or PSE to participate in a statewide, real-time electronic PSE monitoring program for the purpose of tracking illegal PSE purchases.
At that time, the commonwealth joined the NPLEx system. Access to this Web-based database is provided to pharmacies and retailers at no cost.
Monitoring products that contain ephedrine and pseudoephedrine is part of a nationwide effort to curb the creation and use of methamphetamine. Unlike drugs such as marijuana or heroin, which are derived from plants, methamphetamine is synthesized in illegal drug labs using a variety of chemicals that are "cooked" with ephedrine- or pseudoephedrine-containing products.
In fiscal year 2013-2014, 326 of Pennsylvania's 53,000 admissions to drug treatment were a result of a primary dependence on methamphetamine.
"Although the number of people entering drug treatment in Pennsylvania for methamphetamine abuse represents a small percentage of overall admissions to treatment, addiction to methamphetamine is a serious problem in many areas of the country," said Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Gary Tennis. "As we know from the commonwealth's current drug overdose death epidemic, our state is not immune to the perils of the disease of addiction. We continue to monitor methamphetamine trends and rely on NPLEx as an invaluable tool in helping us keep those numbers low."
To find out more about the department's efforts to fight drug abuse, please visit www.health.pa.gov.
Amy Worden, DOH, 717-787-1783
Jason Snyder, DDAP, 717-547-3314
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health; Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs