State curbs sales of decongestant

By William Thompson

Over-the-counter sales of popular cold medicines like Sudafed and Claritin-D will soon be monitored more closely by the New Mexico Board of Pharmacy. Bill Weast, a drug inspector with the board said word will get out to small pharmacies in the near future.

“Pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in drugs like Sudafed, is also the primary ingredient in the production of crystal methamphetamine,” Weast said. “A new regulation will require that drugs containing pseudoephedrine be stored within 20 feet of a pharmacy employee at all times. Also, sales will be limited to two packages of the particular drug in a seven-day-period.”

Weast said the two packages amount to about 96 tablets.
“I don’t think a person with a cold would use 96 tablets in one week,” he said. “The new storage requirement is designed to keep people from stealing those drugs.”

Rob McClelland, Sr., owner of Bob’s Budget Pharmacy in Tucumcari, said he will abide by the new regulations, but stealing of drugs like Sudafed has not been a problem at his store.

“We had one guy about six months ago who would buy all the Sudafed we had,” said McClelland, “If there were three bottles of tablets on the shelf, he would buy all three. We finally took them off the shelf for a while and he stopped coming in.”

McClelland said he should not have any problem monitoring sales of pseudoephedrine at his pharmacy because of the small-town clientele. Weast said the state will be monitoring sales records of pharmacies.

“It’s up to each store to monitor its sales of pseudoephedrine,” Weast said. “We look at the wholesalers’ records of sales to the pharmacies and we look at the pharmacies’ sales. A small-town pharmacy selling more than $100 in Sudafed in one month, would come under suspicion.”

Lt. Charles Newman of Tucumcari Police said crystal meth use has contributed to many crimes like burglary and domestic violence in the Tucumcari area. Weast said limiting sales of pseudoephedrine will have an impact on the ability of crystal meth labs to maintain production.