The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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January 27, 2013

Setting the record straight on NPLEx tracking system

Guest column

 

On Dec. 3, The Register-Herald published an article by Mannix Porterfield regarding a letter by U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., and U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. The letter called for an investigation of the multi-state electronic pseudoephedrine sales tracking system, known as the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx).

As the chief executive officer of Appriss, the company that provides NPLEx to law enforcement officials and the retail community, I take the issues raised in the letter very seriously and would like to take this opportunity to respond directly to specific points raised in the article. Mr. Porterfield’s story references a portion of the Wyden/Roe letter that states that Appriss “may be inappropriately limiting, or even blocking, appropriate law enforcement access to NPLEx-collected data.” This allegation is false.

NPLEx allows all law enforcement real-time access to all of its data as a matter of policy and practice. Despite repeated requests by Appriss, not one specific example has been brought forward suggesting otherwise or corroborating claims made against the system. Moreover, the assertions leveled stand in stark contrast to dozens of publicly available press reports, testimonials and firsthand accounts from law enforcement and others concerning the system’s evidence being instrumental in methamphetamine (meth) seizures and arrests around the country.

The article also mentions “reports” of Appriss taking personal information collected by NPLEx and supplying it to companies “with a financial stake in sales of the drug” for marketing purposes. This too is patently false and without a shred of evidence.

Consistent with federal law, Appriss does not provide personally identifiable information, including personal health information, identification numbers or any other data that identifies or could be used to identify a person through the system for any purpose other than to ensure compliance with federal requirements on sales of pseudoephedrine (PSE)-containing products.

NPLEx data may only be accessed by law enforcement. No pseudoephedrine manufacturers, distributors or other third party organizations have access via NPLEx to any personally identifiable information related to individuals purchasing these medicines.

And in the final portion of Mr. Porterfield’s story, state Sen. Dan Foster contends that NPLEx has “clearly been ineffective.” According to Dr. Foster, “it’s never been known to reduce meth labs anywhere. They’ve actually gone up.”

While Dr. Foster deserves both praise and respect for working hard to address West Virginia’s meth problem, his comments reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of how NPLEx works.

Just like a radar gun helps police officers catch more of those violating traffic laws and speeding, NPLEx helps law enforcement officials find more meth labs and arrest more meth criminals. By using NPLEx, state officials will now be able to monitor pseudoephedrine purchases and attempted purchases in real time. To date, nearly half of the United States will have adopted real-time, stop-sale technology. The more states that log on to the system, the stronger and more effective it becomes.

Before NPLEx, this information was only available by accessing hand-written logbooks. Police officers would often drive from store to store and sift through individual logbooks to collect evidence against meth cooks. NPLEx offers a dramatic improvement and empowers law enforcement to address meth-related crime of all kinds.

When used properly, West Virginia law enforcement officials will likely uncover a higher number of meth-related incidents in the first few years after implementation.

In short, NPLEx is a remarkable tool that has helped retailers block hundreds of thousands of illegal pseudoephedrine purchases and aided law enforcement in making scores of arrests and lab seizures. Appriss is committed to making the system as strong as possible, and if legitimate issues come up, we will work night and day to rectify them. At the same time, we will not allow falsehoods about the system to exist without response.

Appriss’ mission is “keeping communities safe and informed.” With NPLEx, we are carrying out that mission across the country.

— Michael Davis is co-founder and chief executive officer of Appriss Inc.

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