Computer Program Hopes To Slow Meth Problem

JONESBORO, AR--Some Region 8 pharmacies are playing a bigger role to stop the production of meth.

Thanks to technology, those who go to the store to buy ingredients needed to make meth are going to have a harder time completing their shopping lists.

Several area counties are considering ordinances that would require pharmacies that sell pseudoephedrine to use a computer program that tracks who purchases these products and alerts local sheriff's and state police of abuse.

While some of the larger pharmacies haven't jumped on board yet, some of the smaller pharmacies already have the program up and running. For those who cook meth, big brother is watching if you buy too much of pseudoephedrine.

"Pretty much it's just one box," said pharmacist Brandon Cooper.

Cooper of Soo's Pharmacy says they have kept a written log of those who purchase pseudoephedrine products, but feels the new computer program Meth Check should discourage criminals.

"First of all, you are going to have to show your identification. We ask for that, what we do is enter the product and all of your information address, everything into the database," said Cooper.

This isn't the first safeguard that has been put in place. Beginning in 2005, all products containing pseudoephedrine like Claritin were kept behind the counters; however those who cook meth have found ways around the law.

"They call it smurfing. Where a lot of people will get in one vehicle, park away from the pharmacy, then come in one at a time in and buy those products, then go to another pharmacy and do the same thing," said Cooper.

While cooper doesn't believe smurfing will now stop because of the program, he does believe law enforcement now have a tool to track these criminals those who are cooking meth.

"At least now, if they are using those identifications, they will finally have a way to track some of those people down," said Cooper.

Cooper does feel there is downside to this program, because it puts more of a burden on pharmacies to serve as law enforcement and that this program won't completely fix the problem.

"I think now more of the problem will be people getting them other ways, perhaps smuggling it in from Mexico and I think that is where a lot of the problem is coming from now," said Cooper.

Now that we are in allergy season, Soo's Pharmacy feels some people will shy away from the pseudoephedrine products because of the imposed limits.

They say these products are some of the best when it comes to controlling allergies so you are encouraged to get a prescription from your doctor to prevent these limits.