MethCheck links Kentucky’s pharmacies electronically
Kentucky is only the second state in the country to monitor pseudoephedrine sales electronically on a statewide basis. The passage of Senate Bill 88 earlier this year will allow the commonwealth to link all Kentucky pharmacies electronically to a statewide database. The pharmacist will have the ability to view the customer's purchasing history at the point of sale and individuals
who are purchasing from numerous sources will immediately be identified.
"Electronic monitoring is an excellent crime prevention tool which will attack the substance abuse problem that has touched so many communities across the commonwealth and make Kentucky a safer place."
- Gov. Ernie Fletcher
With the passage of Senate Bill 63 in 2005, Kentucky was one of 41 states to adopt legislation that restricts the sale of products containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine and requires a paper logbook to record transactions.
“Manual logs were a great start, but the technology is now here to prevent the practice of meth abusers traveling store-to-store purchasing pseudoephedrine,” said Gov. Fletcher. “Electronic monitoring is an excellent crime prevention tool which will attack the substance abuse problem that has touched so many communities across the commonwealth and make Kentucky a safer place.”
While the paper logbooks have been useful to law enforcement, some agencies reported a lack of the human resources necessary to obtain the information from individual pharmacies and then enter the information into a database to identify violators. Law enforcement will be able to utilize real-time data with 24-hour access to identify violators of the pseudoephedrine restrictions by partnering with KASPER, a prescription drug monitoring program through the Cabinet for Health and Family Services; and MethCheck, an automated tool that tracks pseudoephedrine purchases.
“Senate Bill 63 has been very successful in reducing meth labs by placing pseudoephedrine behind the counter and requiring a manual logbook to track purchases,” said Laurie Dudgeon, executive director of Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP). “However, we are not willing to settle for a 50 percent drop in meth labs. We believe electronic monitoring can virtually eliminate the problems of dangerous meth labs in Kentucky.”
A pilot program launched in Laurel County in November 2005, between ODCP and Unlawful Narcotics Investigations Treatment and Education (Operation UNITE) in eastern Kentucky has confirmed the success of MethCheck. Within a 12-month period, 16 meth labs were busted, 28 people charged with meth-related offenses and 54 cases are under investigation.
“Our detectives immediately realized the potential of this real-time electronic reporting program. The process to manually check pharmaceutical logs took days. Identifying purchasing trends by individuals could take weeks or even months. MethCheck allows us to do these investigations in a matter of minutes,” stated Karen Engle, president and CEO of Operation UNITE. “The results over the past year and a half have exceeded initial expectations. Based upon the success in just one county, I believe there is a tremendous potential for MethCheck to make a significant impact if it could be expanded statewide.”
MethCheck was created and provided by Appriss Inc, a Louisville, Kentucky based provider of government technology services. The company’s flagship product, Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE), was launched in Kentucky and currently serves in 41 states.
“Laurel County is part of a pioneering effort, where some of the first meth labs in the nation have been busted based on data from MethCheck,” said Mike Davis, president of Appriss. “We’re excited about partnering with law enforcement officials and pharmacies in Kentucky to make a significant contribution to the health and safety of local residents.”
The cost of MethCheck to equip all 1,290 Kentucky pharmacies with the high-speed Internet system is approximately $360,000. MethCheck will be operating statewide by the end of the year.