The Pryor Times

March 28, 2013

Meth-proof pill hits Reasor’s pharmacy shelves

Staff Writer
Susan Wagoner

— On March 12, Reasor’s became the first pharmacy in Oklahoma to offer Zephrex-D, a meth-proof pseudoephedrine. Reasor’s was informed about the availability of the cold medicine by David Starkey of Claremore, who has been the backbone behind the movement to require a prescription to purchase the medication.

Starkey said he was determined to stem the manufacture of methamphetamine by making it harder for drug dealers to get the main ingredient. He was wildly successful. Now he’s turned his attention to having the new medication offered in every pharmacy in Oklahoma.

“I started hearing that Zephrex-D was being placed on the shelves in Missouri which is the home state of Highland Pharma, the company that came up with this life-saving product,” Starkey said. “They picked their home state of Missouri to be the pilot launch.”

Starkey started working the phones to contact the pharmaceutical company about offering the product in Oklahoma.

“It took a couple of days but (they) called me back and said that they decided to sell to Oklahoma,” Starkey said. He was encouraged to start spreading the word with the promise that “they could start shipping tomorrow to any Oklahoma pharmacy that placed an order.”

Starkey contacted Reasor’s because the stores are locally owned.

“I got right through to Andy Becker, the director of pharmacy at Reasor’s,” Starkey said. “His first words were ‘we’ve been waiting for it’ and five minutes after discussing how it is a big first step at stopping our meth lab problem, he was ready to order.”

According to Starkey, the formula for the medicine offers “zero yield” to meth cooks.

“It just turns to jelly,” he said, adding that the cost of the medicine is near the same price as its predecessor.

Mayes County Sheriff Mike Reed said he’s heard a new pill is available and while he doesn’t know a lot about it yet, he thinks it’s a step in the right direction.

“Anything we can do to slow down meth manufacturing is a good thing,” Reed said.

According to records from the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, in 2010, Pryor topped the list of the highest per-capita sales of pseudoephedrine in the entire state. That means drugstores were selling more than two grams of the drug a year for every man, woman and child in its population. At that time, the population of Pryor was 9,539 and 24,166 grams of pseudoephedrine were sold.

Reed, who recently took office, plans to assemble a drug task force to help combat the meth problem in the county.

“Can we solve it? No. But we can put pressure on them,” Reed said, adding that the sheriff’s office will be proactive in the fight against the deadly drug.

Starkey’s fight for legislation isn’t over either.

“Next it is up to Oklahoma lawmakers to force pseudoephedrine manufacturers to put meth blocks in all pseudoephedrine,” Starkey said.

According to Starkey, Highland Pharma and Westport Pharma-

ceuticals who make Zephrex-D, are open to sharing their technology, but not everyone is anxious for the change.

“The dirty little secret is dry pseudoephedrine manufacturers have been making hundreds of millions of dollars from the meth cook market and they want nothing to do with slowing that down,” Starkey said.

He encouraged everyone to contact their representative and demand a safe pseudoephedrine.

“We should never again have to watch another news story about a child burning to death from a meth lab explosion,” he said.

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