NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – More than 54,000 boxes of pseudoephedrine stayed on pharmacy shelves this year, according to information from the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators. The non-profit credits the statewide monitoring system that limits people from buying too much of the substance, which can be used in the making of crystal meth.
Harold King, owner of King's Pharmacy and Compounding Lab, said while the numbers may reflect a successful system, he has not had to flag any of his customers.
"I just don't see much of an interest for pseudoephedrine," he said.
The self-employed pharmacist said he's logged more time on a different database. King checks the I.D. of every customer who walks in with a prescription, so he can reference it to a registration shared with other pharmacists. It's meant to monitor anyone who could potentially buy drugs with a plan to sell or abuse them.
"We're kind of forced into a law enforcement role," said King.
While the business owner might feel more like an officer or a deputy, state prosecutors warn about the seriousness of prescription drug abuse. District Attorney Ben David said pills are the second-most abused drug for 12-17 year olds in North Carolina.
"It is becoming a gateway drug to some of the hardest drugs on the street and, especially in our community, heroin," David said.
Though David said pills could lead to heroin, that does not make them any less dangerous. More people in North Carolina are overdosing on prescription pills than heroin and cocaine, according to the DA.
Only about 30% of doctors are signed up for the prescription registry, but it's mandatory for pharmacists. It might mean more work with no extra pay, but King said it's rewarding, nonetheless.
"There's an obligation to work it into the workflow and the good that comes out of it is certainly immeasurable." King said.
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