It's a new year and Oklahoma has a new weapon in the fight against meth. Effective Jan. 1, all pharmacies in Oklahoma must participate in a multistate meth registry, designed to prevent people from evading limits on pseudoephedrine products used to make methamphetamine.
Although Oklahoma has had a similar in-state registry for several years, meth cooks were able to evade limits by making purchases in both Oklahoma and neighboring states. Now that Oklahoma pharmacies have access to purchase information in every surrounding state, it will be harder to sidestep the law.
Some Oklahoma district attorneys wanted to go even further by requiring a prescription for all pseudoephedrine products. Like many, we felt that approach was overly burdensome and expensive for honest citizens with seasonal allergies and would have unnecessarily increased the patient load at already busy doctors' offices.
Those concerns led state lawmakers to defeat the prescription bill, but they voted to instead strengthen the registry. This was a reasonable approach that better targets lawbreakers rather than the law-abiding. The registry, which keeps individuals without a prescription from buying more than 7.2 grams per month and 60 grams per year in pseudoephedrine medicines, has already proven effective. In 2011, there were 76,000 sales blocked and about 80,000 were prevented in 2012.
Foiling those sales no doubt had an impact on meth production, and the number of blocked transactions should increase now that cross-border purchases no longer allow meth cooks to avoid drug limits. It's worth noting that the number of meth labs in Oklahoma has fallen from 909 labs in 2011 to around 700 in 2012.
Tougher enforcement and prosecution of meth cooks has been credited for part of that downturn along with purchase limits and better monitoring. We continue to believe enforcement action that targets criminals while facilitating legitimate use of medicines remains the best course of action.