Starting Sunday, Tennessee pharmacies will be tracking sales of pseudoephedrine electronically, in real time. It’s the key ingredient in cold medicines like Sudafed and Dimetapp, but it’s also used to make methamphetamine. Since 2005, you’ve had to sign a registry to buy products containing pseudoephedrine. Big drugstore chains would use computerized registries, while smaller pharmacies would use pen and paper. Micah Cost of the Tennessee Pharmacists Association says there was no central system to collect all the data.
“You would go to a certain community pharmacy and they might have a different system than the pharmacy that’s right across the street. So, when you would sale from that one pharmacy, the one pharmacy would track that sale but wouldn’t communicate that across the street to the other pharmacy.”
Beginning January 1, all pharmacies will use the same database to know instantly when and where a customer buys pseudoephedrine. Law enforcement, including the state’s meth task force, will have access to the data within 24 hours.
The legislature passed the electronic requirement, although law enforcement preferred a proposal that would have made pseudoephedrine prescription only. Federal law already limits the amount of pseudoephedrine one person can buy to nine grams a month. That’s the amount you’d find in nine boxes of Sudafed.