Proos, Southwest Michigan sheriffs tout success of NPLEx tracking system to combat meth production

LANSING – Sen. John Proos and Southwest Michigan county sheriffs gathered at a local Niles pharmacy Friday to praise the success of an online tracking system in combating meth production in Michigan.

“I am proud to have led the effort to have Michigan join 16 other states using this online system with a proven record in stopping illegal purchases before they are made,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph, sponsor of the new law. “This system has prevented the production of more than 21,000 grams of meth with a street value of more than $2.1 million. It is outstanding news that illustrates that we did the right thing to safeguard our communities.”

Public Act 84 of 2011 requires retailers or pharmacies to consult the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) before selling products containing pseudoephedrine to make sure buyers have not exceeded a set limit. Ephedrine or pseudoephedrine are common ingredients in cold medications and are commonly used to manufacture methamphetamine.

“I have seen first-hand the way that this system has resulted in convictions for producers of methamphetamines,” said Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey. “Recently our detectives used this tracking program to assist them in verifying the purchases of pseudoephedrine, which led to the conviction of two individuals for manufacturing methamphetamines. This program is working great and is a great tool for our investigators.”

John Burgess, pharmacy manager for Martin’s Supermarket in Niles says before this system took effect, he and his team had resorted to limiting the sale of products containing pseudoephedrine to local customers only.

“Since the NPLEx system has gone into effect, we have noticed a significant decrease in across-the-border attempts to purchase products containing pseudoephedrine,” Burgess said. “The system has made it far easier to monitor illicit sales of products containing pseudoephedrine and to work with law enforcement to stop the production of methamphetamine.”

In the three months since e-tracking was launched in Michigan, the system has blocked the illegal sale of 42,955 grams of a key methamphetamine ingredient including about 9,211 grams just in Southwest Michigan. 

NPLEx is a real-time electronic logging system provided at no cost to taxpayers or retailers and is used only by law enforcement to track sales of over-the-counter cold and allergy medications containing precursors to methamphetamine.

“Cass County has been hit particularly hard by the devastating effects of methamphetamine,” said Cass County Sheriff Joseph Underwood. “I am glad that the NPLEx system has had such a promising start in Michigan and look forward to utilizing it in the future.”

Pharmacies across the state have been using the program for one to three months. The law went into effect on Jan. 1, but many retailers started using the system in November 2011. During that time, Michigan residents were able to legally buy 567,000 boxes of medicine for their families.

Proos added: “I sponsored this law because the NPLEx e-tracking system is the most effective means to combat meth production without unfairly impacting a resident’s access to necessary cold medications.”

Pharmacies and retailers that have not yet registered for the system may do so at: www.NPLExsurvey.com.

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