Kroger tightens pseudoephedrine sales limits

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Kroger supermarkets have joined a growing number of retailers in West Virginia that are restricting sales of a cold medication that’s also used to make methamphetamine in clandestine labs.

This week, Kroger agreed to tighten customer purchase limits on products that contain pseudoephedrine, a key meth-making ingredient, according to a letter Kroger executives sent to the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy. The new monthly limits are more restrictive than those under West Virginia law. The change will take effect at Kroger’s 40 pharmacies in West Virginia “in the coming weeks,” the company said.

“We have taken several steps to ensure that we are only selling [pseudoephedrine] products to customers who are using these products for the appropriate health-related uses,” Kroger spokesman Carl York said Wednesday.

Kroger stores also have started to stock so-called “tamper-resistant” pseudoephedrine cold products that can’t be converted into meth.

What’s more, Kroger pharmacists won’t do a “pre-checks” for customers who want to know whether they’ve exceeded their pseudoephedrine purchase limits, the company said. Pharmacy employees have been instructed to turn away “suspicious transactions” — those involving people suspected of buying pseudoephedrine with plans to divert the medicine for illegal use.

Kroger stopped short of barring sales of cold medications that have pseudoephedrine as their only active ingredient — a change that several competing pharmacies have enacted in West Virginia. Meth makers typically prefer the single-ingredient products.

“Single-ingredient [pseudoephedrine] is a legal and effective medication that customers with legitimate health needs want to be able to purchase,” York said.

Kroger also has urged West Virginia officials to establish uniform rules to regulate pseudoephedrine purchases. Drugstores across the state are establishing different inventory policies, causing confusion among consumers, Fry said…

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