BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) - Pharmacies can be a gold mine for bad guys. The drugs inside offer a treasure chest of ingredients needed to make methamphetamine.
The National Precursor Log Exchange, NPLEx, makes it much more difficult for meth cooks to get the ingredients they need.
Since 2010, the electronic system has linked all pharmacies, tracking the amount of pseudoephedrine a person buys and flagging those with prior drug convictions. The goal is to cut off the supply at the source.
"They are given a code at that point. They cannot sale to you or they potentially have issues then," Robert Savage with the Etowah County Drug Enforcement Task Force said.
A law that fully went into effect in January adds teeth to the system. It appears to be making a difference.
"We want to do everything we can do to protect citizens of Alabama and law enforcement from the dangers of these meth labs and what they do because they are really a horrible thing," Barry Matson with the Alabama DA Association said.
According to a report from the Alabama Drug Abuse Task Force, NPLEx blocked 28,508 ephedrine or pseudoephedrine products from being sold from January to March of this year. That's up from 19,556 for the same period the prior year.
Law enforcement says the decline is thanks to changes in the way cases can be prosecuted.
The 2012 law makes it a felony to possess drug paraphernalia, if it can be proven there was intent to make meth.
The law also allows district attorneys to prosecute not only the people pharmacy hopping for ingredients but also the cook giving out the orders.
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