More pharmacies selling meth-resistant products

CHARLESTON – Following the announcement of one pharmacy chain recently to stock a tamper-resistant form of the drug used in the production of methamphetamine, other chains have said they too have a drug that is resistant to making meth.

Fruth Pharmacy, which has 27 locations in West Virginia and Ohio, recently announced it is stocking a drug called Nexafed. The tablet contains the active ingredient pseudoephedrine, similar to the popular brand-name allergy drug Sudafed.

But if an abuser tries to extract the pseudoephedrine out of Nexafed to make meth, it breaks down into a thick gel that thwarts production.

Representatives from CVS and Rite Aid said they are selling products which contain Zephrex-D, which has similar technology to prevent PSE extraction.

”We’ve been selling Zephrex-D in our Missouri stores for about a year,” said CVS Public Relations Director Mike DeAngelis. ”It is available in addition to Sudafed and not a replacement for it.

”We are still evaluating this product before determining whether to offer it in additional markets. It is also important to note that regulations still require us to sell Zephrex-D behind the pharmacy counter.”

CVS is continuing to support measures aimed stopping illegal drug manufactuing and use.

”CVS Pharmacy is unwavering in its support of the measures taken by the federal government and the states to prevent drug abuse,” DeAngelis said. ”We will continue to cooperate fully with the DEA and other law enforcement agencies in their efforts to keep PSE out of the wrong hands.”

Rite Aid Pharmacies does not carry Nexafed at this time, but in the next several weeks will begin selling Zephrex-D as well, said Eric Harkreader, public relations specialist with Rite Aid Corp.

Meth production has been a big problem in West Virginia. Statewide, authorities seized more than 300 meth labs since January. More than half were in Kanawha County.

Authorities in Parkersburg have discussed the rise in “shake and bake” operations where a single person can make meth using household items and some pseudoephedrine.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.