System blocks county drug sales

In the first six months of this year, nearly 800 boxes of pseudoephedrine were blocked from being sold in Johnson County as part of a program meant to hinder methamphetamine production.

Johnson County had the third highest amount of blocked sales among central Indiana counties, behind Marion and Hamilton counties, according to data from NPLEx, the program used to track and block pseudoephedrine sales.

The system, which is used in more than 30 states, tracks how much pseudoephedrine people buy, since customers are required to show their identification at the pharmacy when they buy the popular cold medicine.

The system will notify the pharmacy if people exceed state and federal limits for what they are allowed to purchase within a certain amount of time, blocking the sale.

In Indiana, a person can buy 7.2 grams of pseudoephedrine in a 30-day period. That amount is actually lower than federal law, which allows people to buy up to 9 grams in 30 days, which can range from 76 to more than 400 pills, depending on the dosage of medication, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The tracking system will also block the sale if the person has been convicted of a methamphetamine-related charge.

Across the state, the system has blocked the sale of more than 32,000 pseudoephedrine boxes in the first fix months of the year — the most recent data available.

The tracking system and its use by police can be partially credited for a decrease in methamphetamine labs across the state, said Krista McCormick, NPLEx account manager with Appriss. Last year, state police found 1,452 meth labs, and this year, that number is expected to be less than 1,000, she said.

But that number is also down because of other trends, including methamphetamine being shipped into the U.S. from Mexico, and the continued increase in the use of heroin and other opiates, she said.

Recently, a group of law enforcement officers came to Johnson County to train on the system, which also allows police to proactively track sales of pseudoephedrine to look for trends and patterns. That information can help them find more methamphetamine labs, McCormick said.

In addition to running people’s names, police can also use the system to look for suspicious buying patterns, potentially allowing them to track down a meth lab before it even starts, she said.

“It’s allowing law enforcement to have real time access to data, and look at purchasing patterns,” she said.

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Here is a look at the number of boxes of pseudoephedrine that were blocked from being sold to customers from January through June of this year:

Boone County;329

Hamilton County;1,521

Hancock County;272

Hendricks County;637

Johnson County;795

Marion County;3,306

Morgan County;326