JAMA Article Is College’s First Monthly Publication Highlight for 2013

Jan 02, 2013

A University of Kentucky research study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) is the first to be recognized as a UK College of Pharmacy Monthly Publication Highlight. The report, which is entitled “Association Between Pseudoephedrine Sales and Reported Clandestine Methamphetamine Laboratory Seizures in Kentucky,” was published October 16, 2012 by College faculty members Jeffery Talbert, Karen Blumenschein, and Trish Freeman, pharmacy staff member Amy Burke, and Arnold Stromberg from UK’s Department of Statistics.

The UKCOP Publication Highlight is a new program created by the College’s Office of Research to honor and recognize outstanding research and scholarship generated within the College. A new publication will be selected each month by the College’s Research Advisory Council.

“Kudos to Drs. Talbert, Blumenschein, Freeman, Burke, and Stromberg on their important research,” said Linda Dwoskin, Associate Dean for Research for the UK College of Pharmacy. “They are most deserving of this honor. I encourage all of our investigators to read their publication and to apply for future COP Monthly Publication Highlight honors.”

The publication shows a direct correlation between pseudoephedrine sales and illicit methamphetamine production in Kentucky counties.

“Our study is simple,” said Dr. Talbert, Director of the UK College of Pharmacy’s Institute for Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy. “We look at the county level sales of pseudoephedrine normalized to reflect differences in a county’s population and correlate this data to the number of methamphetamine lab seizures. While it is obvious that pseudoephedrine is needed to manufacture methamphetamine, our study is the first to make use of data that track sales of pseudoephedrine at pharmacies. We find that counties where more pseudoephedrine is sold are the same as those with more reported methamphetamine lab seizures. Even though Kentucky requires pseudoephedrine sales to be tracked electronically, in real-time, the per capita sales in some counties appear to be aberrant. Our results indicate a 565-fold variation in pseudoephedrine sales between counties. It is highly improbable that demand for pseudoephedrine in these counties is solely due to cough/cold/allergy.”

According to the report, clandestine methamphetamine laboratories supply up to 35 percent of the illegal market. Even though Kentucky lawmakers and policymakers have taken steps to reduce methamphetamine production over the years, the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine remains a problem across the state.

Kentucky law limits pseudoephedrine sales in all counties to 7.2 grams per person per month, sufficient to allow a patient to take the maximum daily dose (240 mg/d) each day. Electronic tracking of sales is also required, according to the report.

The authors of this study analyzed the relationship between pseudoephedrine sales and the number of laboratories reported in Kentucky using county level data from 2010. The authors found that in 2010, Kentuckians purchased an average of 24,664 grams of pseudoephedrine per county and 1,072 clandestine laboratories were reported. There was considerable variability in pseudoephedrine sales per county. Counties with greater pseudoephedrine sales were significantly associated with having greater numbers of laboratories synthesizing methamphetamine.

“The strength of this study is that it is the first, to our knowledge, to provide empirical evidence that pseudoephedrine sales are correlated with the clandestine manufacture of methamphetamine,” the report said. “This study highlights the need for research on various approaches to containing clandestine methamphetamine production, including restriction of pseudoephedrine sales to only those patients who have a true medical need for its decongestant properties.”

To read the full article, click on the following link, http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1383227.

page last modified: February 19 2014     

© University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy
Official Site of the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy