Keeping good drugs out of bad guys hands - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Keeping good drugs out of bad guys hands

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October 21, 2004

Thomasville - It's a felony to have more than 300 pseudoephedrine pills in your possession. The reason? The popular decongestant is one of the ingredients needed to make methamphetamine.

Meth lab busts have become a regular occurrence for drug agents in Thomas County. "It's just become a fad drug right now," says Thomas County Narcotics Commander Guy Winkelmann. "It's becoming where a lot of people are using it and it's easy to make."

Made using a key ingredient called pseudoephedrine that can be found in cold products such as sudafed and alavert. "Be careful with over-the-counter drugs," says Pharmacist Jennifer Smith. "Most of them were prescription at one time because they do have side effects, and are dangerous, and so we have to be very careful with those drugs."

And at Thomas Drug store, that's why they closely monitor those potentially dangerous over-the-counter products. Over-the-counter drugs that contain pseudoephedrine are kept within the pharmacists eyesight. The reason for that is so they can see who's buying the product as well as how many they're buying.

Smith says, "If someone came in and bought a large quantity or more than the recommended amount, we would certainly be able to see that and contact authorities and ask them not to buy it here anymore."

Winkelmann says, even before laws were passed that prohibited the possession of more than 300 pills, pharmacists were watching for abuse of the medications. He says, "A lot of our stores, local stores here have contacted us over the last two years about it."

And while it seems as long as there is demand for a drug, there will be a supplier, "It does not hurt to make it a little harder to get," says Smith.

Harder for criminals to make a seemingly harmless medication into a deadly drug. So far this year there have been 36 arrests in Thomas County alone for possession and manufacturing of methampetamine.

posted at 4:46 PM by karen.collier@walb.com