Cape Girardeau pharmacy leads state in pseudoephedrine sales, database shows

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Cape Girardeau pharmacy has logged the most pseudoephedrine sales in Missouri, according to October statistics from the Louisville, Ky., company operating a database tracking pseudoephedrine purchases in the state.

Walgreens, at 1 S. Kingshighway, logged 2,389 boxes of cold medication containing pseudoephedrine being sold. The ingredient is key in making methamphetamine.

The October figures are in line with numbers Walgreens pharmacy manager Heather Polisch presented to the Cape Girardeau City Council last month. At the council's first October meeting, she said they'd been selling about 75 boxes of pseudoephedrine products per day.

"They don't have time to serve legitimate customers," said Jason Grellnor, vice president of the Missouri Narcotics Officers Association.

The council is preparing to read an ordinance that would require a prescription for the medicine at its Nov. 15 meeting.

Grellnor said he requested the numbers from Appriss Inc., which began connecting pharmacies to the database starting Sept. 28.

Of about 1,300 pharmacies in Missouri, 463 commercial pharmacies are inputting data into the tracking system. They didn't all connect at the same time, so not all of the pharmacies were plugging in their sales for all 31 days of October. Cape Girardeau's Walgreens, however, was.

Nearly 87,000 boxes of pseudoephedrine-based products were sold statewide in October.

"That's with less than half of the pharmacies reporting," Grellnor said. "My guess is that the November numbers -- depending on how Cape's vote goes -- could show that the Walmart store and the Walgreens store are equal and at the top of the list."

Cape Girardeau's Walmart store was only inputting numbers the last seven days of October.

Behind the Cape Girardeau store is the Fenton Walgreens, which sold nearly 1,000 fewer boxes. Of the top 40 pharmacies reporting, the majority are Walgreens stores.

Grellnor said the Narcotics Officers Association will continue to request figures from the company providing the database, most likely the first of each month since the numbers are entered into the system in real time.

Still, the data is no help to law enforcement, he said, as the cold medication is already sold and the methamphetamine is already being made.

"All these numbers do is prove the amount of pseudoephedrine that's being sold is well above what is needed to treat individuals," Grellnor said. "It also proves that requiring a prescription for pseudoephedrine is forcing criminals into areas where they can still buy it without" a prescription.

Cape Girardeau Mayor Harry Rediger agrees, saying the city has become an "island" for meth makers after several of the surrounding larger cities have passed ordinances requiring a prescription to purchase medicines containing pseudoephedrine.

When a similar ordinance was proposed five months ago, Rediger was opposed, but now he is supporting the ordinance.

"I've already made up my mind, but we'll see where the council votes," he said. "There may be a split vote in the council on this one."

Media representatives at a corporate Walgreens office did not return phone calls Thursday.

ehevern@semissourian.com

388-3635

Pertinent Address:

1 S. Kingshighway, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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