CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Cracking down on meth is now possible with the stroke of a few keys, thanks to a new online database being used by pharmacies.
The National Precursor Log Exchange Program (NPLEx) officially kicked off this month in West Virginia. It tracks the number of times you buy over-the-counter cold medicine containing pseudophedrine.
Meant to catch meth-making criminals before they leave the pharmacy, it loads that information into an online database that is instantly accessible to police.
"It gives law enforcement a very valuable tool by having real-time reporting for law enforcement," said Bridget Lambert, president of the West Virginia Retailers' Association. "They'll be able to find people who are purchasing it for the wrong reasons."
Lawmakers set the purchase limits at 7.6 grams per month. It varies by brand, but that equals about two packages of the popular drug Claritin D.
Officials say that allows you to take the maximum daily dosage every day to fight colds or allergies.
If you go over that limit, officials say you'll be flagged in the system and pharmacists will deny the sale.
Some folks are concerned that the system will penalize heavy allergy-sufferers or large families that need to buy medicine for multiple members -- especially during cold season.
"If a family has multiple kids and they're restricting it to about two packages a month, that's going to put a strain on larger families," shopper John Curtis said.
Officials say if you need to buy more than the limit allows, you'll have to get a prescription from your doctor.
"I think it's going to be a matter of gradual adjustment for the people who use these drugs a lot," Curtis said.
Officials say the system also works in Ohio, Virginia and Kentucky to catch criminals who try to cross state borders.