By Associated Press - Monday, February 15, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A 2011 law that further restricted the sale of pseudoephedrine in Arkansas is responsible for a drastic reduction of methamphetamine labs in the state, but the drug still remains a problem, officials said.

Sales of pseudoephedrine, a cold medicine that is a key component of meth, have plummeted since the enactment of a 2011 law that required pharmacists to make “a professional determination” of whether a person needs the medication without a prescription, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Monday (https://bit.ly/1XtaKmU ).

In 2010, there were 936,759 retail pseudoephedrine transactions in the state, according to the Arkansas Crime Information Center. Last year, that number was 120,435.

The Drug Enforcement Agency said the drop in pseudoephedrine has led to a sharp decrease in the number of meth labs. In 2009, a DEA report listed 486 lab seizures in Arkansas. Now, the DEA no longer tracks lab seizures because the number has decreased so dramatically, spokeswoman Debbie Webber said.

But the drug is still an issue, with drug users buying it on the street instead of making it themselves, state officials said.



Craighead County Sheriff Marty Boyd said methamphetamine labs in northeast Arkansas were “rampant” during the mid-2000s, with four or five lab seizures per week.

“We still see labs occasionally, but it’s just not as frequent,” he said, adding that his department sees more methamphetamine that originates in Mexico.

The reduction in meth labs has also caused a decrease in the number of children who are admitted to hospitals with methamphetamine-related burns. Arkansas Children’s Hospital says it treated 19 children for meth-related burns in 2004 but that such cases are rare now.

Pharmacists said the tougher restrictions on pseudoephedrine have caused a decrease in sales.

“Every piece of pseudoephedrine legislation, including the 2011 law, impacted pharmacists’ ability to sell it and make money,” said Scott Pace, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the Arkansas Pharmacists Association. “But that’s something we’re willing to do because it’s what’s best for the community.”

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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