Durbin: Participation in National Logbook Initiative Will Help Combat Meth in Illinois

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) today commended the State of Illinois for working to implement a multi-state electronic tracking system to monitor sales of meth precursor chemicals and identify individuals who are illegally stockpiling those chemicals. The National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) will provide law enforcement agencies across the country with free access to an electronic log of cold and allergy medicine purchases. This state effort builds upon a federal law sponsored by Durbin.


“Ninety percent of the pseudoephedrine used to make meth in Illinois is obtained through illegally large purchases of over-the-counter drug products,” said Durbin. “Pharmacies using electronic logbook systems will make it much easier to catch those who stockpile these drugs to make meth. I commend officials in Illinois for proactively combating this problem in our state and making it easier for law enforcement agencies to put in place a better method of tracking purchases of illegal amounts of meth precursor drugs.”


The NPLEx program has been modeled after the successful efforts in Kentucky to prevent the illegal use of cold and allergy medicines in meth production. The cost of deploying and supporting the system has been covered by a public-private partnership that the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators negotiated with manufacturers of these medicines. Therefore, states like Illinois that participate in the NPLEx program can deploy and support the system without the use of government funds. In Illinois, the program will be administered by the Illinois State Police.


Certain chemicals that are necessary to produce methamphetamine are readily available in household products or over-the-counter cold or allergy medicines. Current law restricts the amount of these products that can be purchased at one time by a single person. Some meth producers have been able to get around restrictions by “smurfing” – purchasing illegal amounts of meth precursor products by traveling to multiple pharmacies and buying small quantities at each.


Federal law limits the amount of meth precursor drugs – such as pseudoephedrine – that a customer can buy and requires pharmacies to keep written or electronic logbooks recording each purchase of the drugs. This approach has led to a drop in the number of meth labs discovered in many states; however, meth producers are adapting to the current restrictions by “smurfing” or travelling to multiple pharmacies that keep logbooks in paper form and buying legal quantities of precursors at each one.


Durbin joined Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in authoring legislation – signed into law last year – to facilitate the use of electronic logbooks instead of written logbooks. Electronic logbook systems are far more cost-effective than written logbooks and offer a better method of tracking purchases. This new law also allows for the use of bar code reader technology, and would revise the current requirement that each purchaser “enter” his or her name and address into a logbook so that retailers can type in the information electronically.