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IPOP Research Team Recieves Research Publication Highlight of the Year

article courtesy of the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy

(Jan. 21, 2014) - 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 Research Publication Highlight of the Year. Every month the College honors the best research publication submitted by faculty, postdocs and graduate students as a way to recognize outstanding research and scholarship generated within the College. Out of the 12 monthly publication recipients in 2013, the JAMA article received the top award for 2013.

The title of the publication is “Association Between Pseudoephedrine Sales and Reported Clandestine Methamphetamine Laboratory Seizures in Kentucky.” The authors are Jeffery Talbert, Karen Blumenschein and Trish Freeman, each of whom is a faculty member in the College’s Institute for Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy (IPOP). Former pharmacy staff member Amy Burke and Arnold Stromberg from UK’s Department of Statistics are also co-authors on this publication highlight of the year.

“I can’t think of a more fitting manuscript to receive the College’s first Research Publication Highlight of the Year award,” said Timothy S. Tracy, Dean of the UK College of Pharmacy. “Any time you have a work published in JAMA is an outstanding accomplishment. Our IPOP group is an incredibly accomplished pharmaceutical outcomes research team, and I am proud they are receiving the recognition they richly deserve.”

“I am proud of Drs. Talbert, Blumenschein, Freeman, Burke, and Stromberg’s important contribution to science and pharmaceutical policy,” said Linda Dwoskin, Associate Dean for Research for the UK College of Pharmacy. “I also applaud all of the research teams that were awarded Monthly Publication Highlights this year, and I look forward to reading about and recognizing the many high impact publications generated by our College’s research teams in 2014.”

The College’s top publication in 2013 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 reveal 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 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.”

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