Pharmaceutical News: December, 11

Nixon accepts pharmaceutical industry’s offer to track pseudoephedrine sales

Gov. Jay Nixon announced today that a new computerized system will help combat methamphetamine labs by blocking illegal sales of a decongestant at the pharmacy counter.

Legislators passed a law in 2008 requiring pharmacies to report sales of pseudoephedrine products electronically, but the mandate was never funded. Pseudoephedrine is meth’s main ingredient.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a trade association representing pharmaceutical companies that make the over-the-counter product, volunteered to pay for the system.

Nixon accepted the industry’s offer, saying it will allow pharmacists and law enforcement to determine at the point of sale whether a buyer has bought large amounts of pseudoephedrine at various stores to skirt the legal limits.

Nixon said the system would allow people who legitimately need the cold medicine to purchase it, but will block sales to people trying to build an inventory to make methamphetamine.

Jim Acquisto, Product Manager at Appriss Inc., the company building the database, said the system likely will be up and running in about 90 days, and will connect Missouri’s database to those in Kentucky, Illinois and Louisiana.

Kansas and Iowa likely will be the next states to link to Appriss’ system, called Nplex.

Pharmacists will enter the buyer’s name into the database and get an immediate record of how much pseudoephedrine the person has bought along with a record of where and when the purchases were made. If the new purchase would put the buyer above daily or monthly limits, the purchase will be denied.

A buyer who is denied would receive a receipt with Appriss’ phone number asking the person to call Appriss for an explanation of the denial. The system is also able to spot fake identification cards, flag multiple purchasers living at the same address and track other suspicious patterns.

Appriss also will provide free training to pharmacy staff on how to use the system as well as law enforcement personnel on how to track suspicious purchases.

Local police agencies in Missouri are skeptical the new system will have an impact. They point to Kentucky, which had an increase in meth labs during the database’s first year of operation. They say Kentucky’s experience shows that the electronic system doesn’t stop meth labs.

Instead, police in Missouri have lobbied for prescription laws, saying electronically tracking sales won’t stop meth addicts from paying others to buy boxes of pseudoephedrine for them or shopping in groups.

So far, eight local governments have passed prescription laws, including Washington, Union, Poplar Bluff, Gerald, Kennett, Eureka, Potosi, Jefferson County and Farmington.

Mixed reaction to Pharmacy Voice

Newly formed pharmacy organisation Pharmacy Voice, which is the result of the NPA, CCA and Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) joining forces to represent their members, has had a mixed reaction from the community pharmacy sector.

While many industry leaders and pharmacy minister Earl Howe welcomed the move, others cautioned that the group might not help to bring the sector together.

Pharmacy Voice will represent members from January with a stronger, unified voice, the associations say.

Ian Facer, NPA and Pharmacy Voice chair, told C+D when it came to representation, “the whole landscape has been fragmented and pharmacy has not been punching anywhere near its weight, it’s about galvanising that and shaking things up”.

Pharmacy minister Earl Howe welcomed the launched of Pharmacy Voice, saying a more coherent message from the sector would be “extremely helpful” for government.

And Jeremy Main, managing director at Alliance Healthcare, said he looked forward to seeing how the organisation would work.

“I really do hope that Pharmacy Voice will put pharmacy at the forefront of the healthcare agenda and really make things happen,” he said.

However, one reader posting on C+D’s website, said: “This feels like a further fragmentation of the representative power of the profession rather than a consolidation.”

And Pharmacy Voice would “be out to protect the interests of its members, the owners of pharmacies, many of whom may not be pharmacists”, the PDA Union warned.

“Their statements indicate that they have done this for the benefit of pharmacy. However, inevitably there will be a concern amongst pharmacists that they are merely protecting their own commercial interests, which may not necessarily always satisfy the broader aspirations of the profession,” PDA Union general secretary John Murphy warned.

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