Local leaders in one East Tennessee county say a new strategy in their fight against meth is working.
Last summer, 8th Judicial District Attorney General Lori Phillips-Jones urged pharmacists in Scott County to stop handing out Sudafed. Phillips-Jones asked pharmacists to sell the alternative, Nexafed, instead.
Before Phillips-Jones made her request, Scott County authorities made 13 meth lab busts in their community. After her request, in June, those number fell to just four labs. She said no busts were made between the months of October and December.
Phillips-Jones said he believes the drop in pseudoephedrine sales is tied directly to the drop in meth lab busts.
She said pseudoephedrine sales in Scott County have dropped by 75 percent over the last year.
"Three months with no meth labs," she said. "I think that meth labs are directly related to the availability of pseudoephedrine in your area."
But, Phillips-Jones says meth producers are still traveling from far away to get their hands on the materials needed to make meth. She said in 2013, only 64 percent of pseudoephedrine sales in Scott County came from people who live in the county.
The number was even lower in neighboring Campbell County. Only 44 percent of pseudoephedrine sales there were to locals.
"If you are an allergy sufferer, why would you drive three hours away to get Sudafed?" said Phillips-Jones.
She said, so far, there has been no large outcry among Scott County residents over the loss of Sudafed.
Pharmacists said most pharmacists have been receptive to the idea as well.