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Drug tracking system goes online in Louisiana

5 years ago June 15, 2010 Jun 15, 2010 Tuesday, June 15 2010 Tuesday, June 15, 2010 9:26:26 PM CDT in News
Source: WBRZ
By: Ashley Rodrigue

Authorities across the state began tracking trips to the pharmacy in a new effort to prevent creation of methamphetamine.

The approval process to purchase a box of cold and allergy medicine is tedious and time-consuming, but pharmacists and police say the effort is worth the anticipated end result – less meth in your community.

Several more steps are now required, including a swipe of your I.D. and signature, to purchase products considered ingredients for methamphetamine.

Pharmacist Billy McCarthy says the new system rolled out Tuesday is a far cry from the weapons against meth-makers that wasn't working before.

"Pencil and paper,” said McCarthy. “They would come in every 6 months and check it. Well, in six months, there's an awful lot of damage that can be done."

Currently, ‘over-the-counter’ cold and allergy medicines are actually behind the counter. Buyers and how much they’re buying are entered into a database.  The information can be seen by stores, Sheriff's offices and the state.  A third of the country is also linked into the system with the goal to cut down on drug crime.

"This is a giant leap forward and certainly a great day for the state of Louisiana and the citizens that we proudly serve," said Louisiana State Police Col. Mike Edmonson.

Livingston Parish authorities believe it's especially a leap forward. For them, shutting down at least one meth lab a week is too common an occurrence for comfort.

"It's always important to us in Livingston because our narcotics team out here for the tri-parish are very aggressive and they do everything they can to stop these meth labs and the meth cookers," said Chief Deputy Jason Ard. "Any tool we have that works with us helps us to do our job a lot better, a lot quicker and try to make our parish safer."

The system alerts pharmacists and law enforcement when a customer attempts to buy more than the legal limit of the target medications, which equals about three boxes a month.  Pharmacists can either deny the person the sale or contact authorities.

Louisiana and Kentucky are the first to use this tracking program, but ten other states have plans joining soon.

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