New laws in Kansas and Missouri, prescribe a methamphetamine cook shouldn’t be able to get enough of his key ingredient to make a good-size batch. Except that neither state can afford to fund the laws, which are intended to link pharmacy records and prevent multiple purchases of cold medicine. As a result, a meth cook can go from one store to another, buying the legal maximum of cold medicine, a source of the key meth ingredient, at each store until he has all he needs.
That should change with the pharmaceutical industry’s offer to fund a linked database in Kansas and Missouri. It is a move designed to better combat meth labs, and also could fend off attempts to legislate cold medicine into a prescription drug. Final touches are being put on public-private agreements with the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. All the states that have electronic databases, including Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kentucky, will be tied into the system that will automatically refuse sales to anyone who tries to buy more than the legal limit. Police will also be able to use it to investigate. Officials expect more and more states to pass such laws and hook up databases. It is the latest development in a seesaw battle that has gone on since the federal government and states four years ago set limits on the cold medicine sales. Oregon has passed a law making the medicine a prescription drug. Officials say that drove down the number of meth labs. Electronic databases can be effective in countering meth labs and are far better for consumers who use the pills to fight colds and allergies, said Elizabeth Funderburk, a spokeswoman for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a nonprofit that represents firms that make over-the-counter medicines.