Electronic database introduced in S.C. to slow the meth production

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- South Carolina lawmakers have teamed up with law enforcement to reduce the growing threat of meth labs.

On Wednesday, officials announced new statutory requirements that will monitor sales of ephedrine-based products in South Carolina.

You can read the Methamphetamine law.

Pharmacies such as CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart are among the more than 23,000 retailers utilizing the service that electronically tracks the sale of pseudoephedrine found in products like Sudafed.

The database scans a customer TMs photo identification such as a driver TMs license at the point of sale through a secure National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) portal.

When a transaction exceeding the legal limit is entered, an instant message is sent to the retailer recommending denial of sale. The information is automatically transferred to the database where it can be reviewed by law enforcement. NPLEx is funded by manufacturers of those medicines and is a complimentary service which does not require use of taxpayer dollars.

There is an opt-out choice for retailers that only sell single-dose packages of ephedrine based products or if they do not have a compatible point of sale system. Exempted retailers must continue to maintain written logs of ephedrine based product sales.

Since the launching of the database on January 1, 2011, more than 6,000 boxes of PSE products were blocked from sales in South Carolina.

Hopefully it will not only stop these sales at the pharmacy-level, but will allow authorities to look at the pattern of purchases, says SLED Director Reggie Lloyd, so we can stop individuals who are not trying to purchase these precursor ingredients for legitimate purchases, but in order to continue to manufacture illegal drugs.

The law also lowers the daily ephedrine cap to 3.6 grams and a monthly cap of 9 grams in a 30-day period. These caps bring South Carolina in line with the Federal Combat Meth Epidemic Act.

The database will be maintained by SLED through the NPLEx service and will be law enforcement accessible.

(State Law Enforcement Division contributed to this report.)