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June 04, 2008

Pseudoephedrine Purchases Now Monitored Real Time Statewide

SEARCY- Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced today that every pharmacy in Arkansas that sells products containing pseudoephedrine is online and using the electronic logbook, which is monitored by local and state law enforcement. Using this new technology, law enforcement can tell who is buying how much pseudoephedrine and where.

"Today's success is the result of good legislative work over the past couple sessions of the General Assembly," McDaniel said.

Act 256 of 2005, which Governor Beebe included in his general legislative package when he was Attorney General and was co-sponsored by McDaniel when he was a member of the House, placed pseudo- containing products behind the counter, resulting in a dramatic decrease in the number of meth labs operating in Arkansas. There were 1206 known meth labs in our state in 2004; by 2005, there were less than half that number-518, and even fewer than that in 2006-463

In 2007, McDaniel as Attorney General included SB 296 in his legislative package with Sen. Hank Wilkins and Rep. Monty Davenport as the lead sponsors in the Senate and House respectively. SB296 aimed to implement a real-time electronic logbook for use in each and every pharmacy throughout the state. A centralized, real-time recording mechanism was necessary because after pseudo-ephedrine products went behind the counter, the meth cooks got smarter and began to go from one pharmacy to the next stocking up on ingredients to make the drug, a process commonly called "smurfing." Log books sitting in isolation at individual stores were not enough to deal with the situation.

The LeadsOnLabs electronic logbook was first used in North Little Rock, and according to their narcotics detectives, the system has significantly cut down on the purchasing of the raw materials used to make meth. Other states have also used similar systems, including our neighbors, Tennessee and Oklahoma. In November of 2005, Oklahoma enacted an online pseudo-ephedrine database for pharmacies. The following year that state's meth lab seizures dropped an incredible 85 percent.

Given the magnitude of the meth problem and the confidence we have in this program, the legislature has allocated $591,000 in set up costs for this year, with another $392,000 pledged for next year.

"I fully anticipate we will have an equal amount of success here in Arkansas-we must have an equal amount of success if we hope to curb this epidemic that threatens our families, our communities, and our state's future," McDaniel said. "While the price of this program may seem high to some, the price of inaction would be far, far greater."

"I have full confidence that both pharmacies and law enforcement throughout the state will use this system to better protect our state's people and its future, and that this will take us one step closer to turning the tide on the meth epidemic in Arkansas," McDaniel concluded.