Over-the-counter drug purchases could soon be tracked online

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The over-the-counter drugs you buy, may soon be tracked online. A new database is in the works to track Sudafed purchases. It's part of the latest effort to cut down on soaring methamphetamine production.

Honor Montgomery is a pharmacist at Westbury Pharmacy in the West End. She says she has to keep an eye out for people trying to buy Sudafed for the wrong reasons.

"We did have a lady that would walk between here and the Kroger and the Walgreen's across from us," Montgomery said. "(She would) buy the same medicines in large quantities."

We've seen meth labs appear in Chester, Petersburg and The Fan. The number of meth labs found in Virginia has soared from 28 in 2009 to more than 150 already this year.

The problem pharmacists like Honor face is that the log she legally must keep of how much Sudafed someone buys isn't shared with other nearby pharmacies.

"We don't know that a certain patient is going over there, and going over here, and going over there," Montgomery said. "She presents her license every time and we're logging it like we're supposed to however there's nothing that says, 'oh wait, she just tried going somewhere else.'"

That's where this new database could come into play.

The Virginia State Crime Commission is looking at creating an online, real-time database that would allow pharmacists to share information.

Your Sudafed purchases would then be kept on a confidential database that only law enforcement could access. Still some have concerns about this information available online.

Kent Willis of the ACLU says he hopes this information will be protected.

"The unfortunate thing is that what we've discovered is that it's virtually impossible (to protect information online)," Willis said. "Where there's been a database, someone's hacked into it and this is very private information."

Meth can be so addictive that often people get hooked after their first hit. This database is in the early stages and so far there's no timeline for when it might launch.

Right now you can only buy about three grams of pseudoephedrine a day or nine grams a month under state law.

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