LAWTON, Okla._Just over a year ago an anti-meth law went into affect in Oklahoma, 14 months later its impact is hard to ignore.
Before the law went into affect, pharmacists only had access to pseudoephedrine sales records within the state. The drug is a key ingredient in meth production. The change allowed pharmacists to cross reference computer records with more than 20 cooperating states. So if someone was doctor shopping or going across state lines to get more than the legal dosage, the system would alert the pharmacist at the point of sale.
Since its enactment, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics says the registry has stopped up to 90,000 sales that could have been used to make the illegal drug.
The registry is known as NPLEX or National Precursor Log Exchange. Law enforcement and pharmacists both say drug users and manufacturers are desperate and not easily deterred. Once they realized it was getting harder to buy large amounts of pseudoephedrine within the state it didn't take long for them to look else where, out of state. But the new law has also curbed that practice.
Lawton pharmacist, Brent Bernnan, says he's seen less people come in to buy pseudoephedrine since the law went into effect over a year ago.
"I think it will get better especially since the other states around us are implementing similar type programs. It keeps people from going across state lines to try to buy the products," said Bernnan.
Since pseudoephedrine is an over the counter medication, the registry is the only way to track who buys it and how much. Oklahoman's can buy up to 3.6 grams of pseudoephedrine per day but may not exceed 7.2 grams a month.
"We are the gatekeepers of the drugs but at the same time we're not the judge of people's intents that they're going to use the product for," explained Bernnan.
Prior to the law going into effect January 2013, each pharmacy would keep a paper log of who bought the drugs but that list wasn't shared city or state wide. The state also requires pharmacies to keep all of there narcotics locked in a vault or to be dispersed throughout their inventory further deterring drug users.
"We're able to keep track of them a lot easier here and it's also a deterrent for those that would think about breaking in," said Bernnan.
While the OBN says the impact across the state has been significant, the numbers in Lawton don't necessarily reflect that change.
OBN says the numbers only prove the drug problem is still present.