A new cold and allergy formula that can’t be used to make methamphetamine will go on sale this week in pharmacies throughout Missouri.
Production of Zephrex-D, which uses the slogan — “Powerful congestion relief. Powerful crime protection” — is in full swing now, said Detective Sgt. Jason Grellner, head of the Franklin County Narcotics Enforcement Unit.
Grellner and others have been pushing for development of such a product that places a “lock” on pseudoephedrine so that it can’t be extracted from cold pills for use in making meth.
Pseudoephedrine is the vital ingredient needed to make meth.
“I’m doing back flips,” said Grellner who has been fighting the meth lab problem in Franklin County for many years.
“This is the product we’ve been waiting for,” Grellner commented.
“This ends the argument. Consumers who need this drug will have access to it and meth makers can’t use it to manufacture meth.”
Grellner said the product has undergone numerous tests that show it is “100 percent efficacious” while multiple labs, the Missouri Narcotics Association and other law enforcement agencies have attempted to use it to make meth and failed.
“You can’t use it to make meth through known clandestine lab methods,” he explained.
“People who use these (pseudoephedrine) products now will see no difference,” Grellner pointed out. “Those who manufacture meth will find that it (Zephrex-D) won’t work.”
Grellner said Zephrex-D will be sold in all Wal-Mart stores throughout Missouri and parts of Illinois as well as other national chains and local pharmacies.
But because it still contains pseudoephedrine — even though it’s in a form that can’t be used for meth — it still will require a prescription in areas with those laws, until a county or city passes an exemption for Zephrex-D, Grellner explained.
Franklin County has adopted that exemption to its prescription law and other municipalities in this area are working to add exemption language to their ordinances, Grellner said.
With the advent of Zephrex-D, Grellner said he’s hopeful that St. Louis city and county will “move quickly” to pass prescription laws to help block the purchase of conventional pseudoephedrine products. Springfield, Missouri’s third largest city, also is considering a prescription law, but there is opposition there, Grellner said.
Grellner said after Cape Girardeau County in southeast Missouri passed a prescription law, law enforcement saw a 65 percent drop in meth labs. Four other counties in southeast Missouri have had “zero” meth labs since they adopted prescription regulations.
Zephrex-D, in the beginning, still will have to be sold through a pharmacy due to state and federal laws regulating sales of pseudoephedrine, but Grellner said an application has been made with the DEA for an exemption so that the new formula eventually could be sold off the shelves.
The new product, which will sell for at or less than the cost of similar products, was developed by Highland Pharmaceuticals in St. Louis County.