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Capitol Health Call
April 10, 2013

Meth Lab Incidents Increase

JAMA. 2013;309(14):1452. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.3563

Reports of methamphetamine laboratory incidents—such as seizures of illicit “meth labs,” dump sites, chemicals, and glassware—declined from 2004 through 2007 but have increased ever since, reported the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on February 13 (http://tinyurl.com/cz6kf2z).

The GAO report, compiled at the request of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, said meth laboratory incidents declined because of state and federal restrictions placed on sales of pseudoephedrine, an ingredient commonly found in over-the-counter cold and allergy medications and a key ingredient in methamphetamine. Under the restrictions, pseudoephedrine-containing medications are available only by prescription or through limited over-the-counter transactions recorded in electronic tracking systems. However, incidents began increasing again as methamphetamine makers developed a new technique for smaller-scale production and as they engaged in “smurfing”—the deployment of large numbers of individuals to purchase legally allowable amounts of pseudoephedrine-containing medications at multiple stores, to obtain the quantities needed for methamphetamine production.

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