Making methamphetamine in Washington just got harder thanks to a new, instant, electronic reporting and monitoring system. The Washington State Board of Pharmacy adopted rules for the system that tracks purchases of over-the-counter medications used to make the drug.
Retailers and law enforcement are now learning how to use the system. On Oct. 15, all retailers must comply with the system’s rules and law enforcement can use the information for investigations under the federal Combat Meth Act. The tracking system, which is in use in many other states, scans photo identification as well as the type and amount of product. It also provides real-time information, showing the cashier if the person buying the medication has exceeded the allowed quantity. Information about the purchase of medication over the legal limits goes instantly to a database available to law enforcement.

Restricting access to drugs used to make meth is a key step to ending illegal meth labs and dumpsites, and to deterring meth abuse and addiction. Controlling access to products containing pseudoephedrine, ephedrine and phenyloproanolamine will help stop meth makers from buying large quantities of the products, while allowing legitimate access to cold, flu and allergy products.

Washington will use the National Precursor Log Exchange, a no-cost system provided to states that want to replace paper sales logs with real-time electronic tracking. Pharmacies, shopkeepers and other vendors selling these medications will enter sales transactions into the NPLEx system at the time of sale.