The state comptroller’s office has issued a new report, as mandated by the Legislature, on the effectiveness of a state law setting up a system (NPLEx) designed to curb sales of cold medications that can be used in making meth – without requiring that such sales be by prescription only.
The results in a word, to quote a press release (reproduced below): “inconclusive.”
The full report (in pdf) is HERE. Excerpt of the “key points:”
The illicit production of methamphetamine (meth) remains a serious public health, safety, and fiscal issue in Tennessee.
Meth production in Tennessee remains at high levels. Between 2008 and 2012, Tennessee and Missouri reported the two highest numbers of meth lab incidents in the nation.
In 2013, a number of Tennessee local governments considered, and 18 have passed, local ordinances to require a healthcare provider prescription to purchase meth pharmacy precursors – primarily the nasal decongestant pseudoephedrine – at pharmacies within their jurisdictions. In December 2013, the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office issued an opinion, which holds that the ordinances violate state law.
The impact of precursor control policies is inconclusive. Analysis of meth lab incident data and precursor control policies by state does not show a conclusive relationship between specific precursor control policies and the number of reported meth lab incidents. Isolating the impact of a particular precursor control policy is more difficult as states continue to increase the number of precursor control policies in effect.
There does not appear to be a consistent trend in meth lab incidents between 2010 and 2012 among high meth production states with electronic tracking.
The number of meth lab incidents in Tennessee since the implementation of the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) in January 2012 has not decreased substantially and remains at high levels. (NPLEx is a real-time, stop-sale meth pharmacy precursor electronic tracking system. It is employed statewide in 29 states including Tennessee and in some pharmacies in other states.)
Pharmacy precursor purchases in Tennessee for the first three quarters of 2013 were 10 percent lower compared to 2012. Estimated sales declined about two percent from 2011 to 2012 following the implementation of NPLEx. Blocked purchases as a percentage of all purchase attempts remained low – two percent in 2012.
For the two states with prescription-only statutes, meth lab incidents in 2012 in Oregon remained at low levels and in Mississippi continued to decline. Meth lab incidents in some other nearby states have followed similar trends.
As of July 2013, 70 local jurisdictions in 26 Missouri counties had passed prescription-only ordinances.
Most ordinances were in effect by the end of 2011. The number of statewide lab incidents in Missouri remained at about 2,000 per year from 2010 through 2012. The number of reported meth lab incidents decreased in 16 of the 26 counties and increased or remained about the same in the remaining 10.
Rigorous statistical studies of the effectiveness of Missouri’s local ordinances are not currently available.
Sufficient data is not yet available to assess the impact of local prescription-only ordinances in Tennessee. However, the Winchester Police Chief has noted a decline in meth lab incidents, as well as a decline in smurfing and associated crimes, since the municipal ordinances in Franklin County became effective in June 2013.
Federal funding to support local meth enforcement and required lab cleanup remains uncertain.
Two “meth-resistant” pseudoephedrine products – Nexafed and Zephrex-D – are now available in many pharmacies nationwide.