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Drug Stores and Methamphetamine

Drug Stores and Methamphetamine

October 25, 2007 —

In recent years, law enforcement has been tracking the growing methamphetamine problem in the United States, which has steadily moved West. One of the key components of the problem is the accessibility of a key ingredient, pseudoephedrine (PSE), which had been available in over-the-counter medications.  States, mostly in the West and Mid-West created laws that forced cold medicines containing these ingredients off retail shelves and behind the pharmacy counter. How have drug stores responded to the laws intended to reduce the sale of medications containing pseudoephedrine?

In June 2005, Safeway was one of the first major grocery retailers to announce it was voluntarily moving all single ingredient pseudoephedrine products to be sold from secure locations in its stores. While complying with all local, state and federal laws and regulations regarding the sale of pseudoephedrine products, Safeway has had a longstanding policy of limiting multiple quantity purchases of products containing PSE in its stores. Additionally, Safeway has been active in establishing "meth watch" programs in various states, working with local law enforcement to ensure only legitimate sales and purchases of these products.

In May 2005, Albertsons, CVS, Longs Drugs, Kmart, Rite Aid, Shopko, Target, Walgreens, and Wal-mart all agreed to move pseudoephedrine products behind the pharmacy counter. This move occurred prior to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ (NACDS) support for federal legislation on the issue.  While the NACDS opposed a bill in January 2005, arguing that it would create unacceptable barriers for regular customers—by summer 2005, the NACDS was behind national legislation.

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