Police get crash course on NPLEx

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HARRISON COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) - At the Bridgeport Conference Center Wednesday, police gathered for a demonstration of the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx), used to track sales of pseudoephedrine (PSE), a key component in the production of methamphetamine.

Hosted by the West Virginia Retailers Association and the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI), the event showcased how NPLEx tracks illegal sales of PSE in real time.

"We see our pharmacies as the first line of defense when someone comes in to purchase pseudoephedrine," said Bridget Lambert, president of the West Virginia Retailers Association. "The pharmacist is the first person that sees them."

In 2013, the state launched NPLEx, designed to block illegal sales of PSE, an ingredient found in over-the-counter cold medicines.

That same year, the state reduced allowable purchases of PSE to 7.2 grams per month per person, or 48 grams per year.

Here's how it works: A pharmacist enters a person's name and amount of pseudoephedrine that person buys into the database. If that person has reached his limit, the sale is blocked.

The system has been embraced by police, who can navigate the system for suspicious activity.

"To have access to that information in real time--so that they can proactively attack domestic meth production in their jurisdiction--is major in and of itself," explained Krista McCormick, NPLEx Account Manager for Appriss, the company behind the technology.

According to West Virginia State Police, meth lab incidents have declined by more than 70 percent since 2013.

Experts tout the technology as a pro-active measure police can use.

But what happens when so-called "smurfer rings" try to skirt around this system?

In the full story above, McCormick provides an example of what would happen in that scenario.