CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Sales of a cold medication that’s used to make illegal methamphetamine have dropped by more than 30 percent in West Virginia this year, according to a report released Tuesday.
That’s the sharpest decline, by far, of any of the 25 states that track purchases of cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine, a key meth-making ingredient.
West Virginia’s pseudoephedrine sales decline mirrors a significant drop in meth lab seizures statewide this year.
“It’s dramatic. There are overall less people buying,” said Krista McCormick, an executive with Louisville-based Appriss Inc., the company that tracks pseudoephedrine sales with a system called NPLEx. “All the numbers are trending downward, but West Virginia has the greatest percentage of change.”
Since January, West Virginia pharmacies have sold 230,080 boxes of pseudoephedrine, down from 335,985 boxes during the same nine months the previous year.
Tennessee, another state with a significant meth lab problem, had the next steepest sales decline at 18 percent. Alabama followed with a 15 percent drop. Ohio was the only state that sold more boxes of pseudoephedrine than the previous year — a 9 percent increase.
The NPLEx system blocks sales when people try to exceed daily, monthly and yearly purchase limits. West Virginia pharmacies were required to start reporting sales to NPLEx in January 2013.
West Virginia law enforcement officers seized the most meth labs in state history in 2013, but lab busts have tailed off this year.
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