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To fight meth, new system will track your purchases of cold-meds

Eric Chan
The fight against meth takes many forms, one of which is a new tracking system that will limit how much cold medicine you can buy.

If you’re a fan of the television series "Breaking Bad" then you know, in the words of Walter White,  that making methamphetamines "is just basic chemistry."

And some of the key chemical ingredients of meth are found in over the counter cold, flu and allergy medications which contain pseudoephedrine and ephedrine. That’s why the Washington State Board of Pharmacy is implementing a new electronic reporting system that will monitor purchases of these medications in real time.

It’s called the National Precursor Log Exchange. It’ll replace a paper log system used by pharmacies throughout the state and requires a lot more information, like a photo ID.

"If you’ve ever seen pictures of a methamphetamine lab bust you’ll see boxes and boxes of these medications because they’ll buy them and use them to make meth," said Tim Church, spokesman for Washington’s Department of Health.

Now, law enforcement agencies will have direct access to the new system and will be notified if someone tries to exceed their limit, which, if you’re wondering, is about 120 pills a day although there’s also a monthly limit of about 300 pills. 

Church says restricting access to drugs used in cooking meth is a key step to ending illegal meth labs and curbing addiction.

The new system goes into effect on October 15th.