Thwarting meth

For the ninth consecutive year, Missouri in 2009 had the most methamphetamine lab incidents in the nation. Since 2005, anyone purchasing over-the-counter drugs containing ingredients used to make meth has been listed on logs kept by retailers. This meant law enforcement had to go from pharmacy to pharmacy to see if meth makers were making purchases at multiple locations.

In 2008, Missouri adopted a law requiring the development of electronic logs that would have put all such purchases into a central database. But the tracking system wasn't funded. Now pharmaceutical companies have agreed to pay for the development of the database. A Louisville, Ky., company that already maintains similar logs for nearby states has been selected to develop the centralized system.

The new system will give law enforcement access to purchases made anywhere in the state. It also is designed to detect fake IDs and other red flags regarding cold medicines containing potential meth ingredients.

Legislation has been proposed to require a doctor's prescriptions for these over-the-counter remedies, a move that would stymie sales to meth makers but make it more difficult for people with colds to get medication. The new database should give law enforcement a key tool to thwart meth making.