Iowa pharmacies have blocked thousands of pseudoephedrine purchases since a computerized tracking system went into effect Sept. 1, reports the Des Moines Register. The antihistamine, contained in many cold medicines, is a key ingredient for illegal methamphetamine labs. The new system tracks every time customers buy pseudoephedrine anywhere in Iowa. It alerts pharmacists whenever someone tries to purchase the cold medicine after buying his or her daily or monthly limit elsewhere. It also gives police a way to check whether suspected meth-makers have been buying large amounts of the ingredient.
Gary Kendell, Iowa’s director of drug-control policy, said alerts about improper purchases were sent to pharmacists more than 3,000 times in the past month. Pharmacists aren’t required to deny sales in such cases, he said, but they usually do. About 70,000 pseudoephedrine purchases were approved over the same time period. Meth cooks have adapted their recipes to get around controls on other chemicals, including anhydrous ammonia fertilizer. But all of their recipes include the cold medicine.