Acura’s IMPEDE® Technology platform is an advanced polymer matrix that is used in NEXAFED®, Acura’s pseudoephedrine (PSE) tablet product, to limit or disrupt the extraction of PSE from tablets for conversion into the illicit drug methamphetamine.
PSE is a widely-used nasal decongestant available in many non-prescription and prescription cold, sinus and allergy products. The chemical structure of PSE is very similar to methamphetamine, a highly addictive, illicit drug abused by an estimated 1.1 million Americans annually. PSE products facilitate a straightforward conversion of PSE products to be misused for the clandestine production of methamphetamine.
In 2006, the enforcement, clean-up and social costs associated with methamphetamine production led the U.S. government to enact the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act (CMEA), relating to the over-the counter sale of PSE products. The CMEA was enacted in response to an alarming increase in and widespread conversion of PSE containing products into methamphetamine. Among other things, the CMEA requires retail stores to maintain their inventory of PSE containing products in a secured location and restricts the amount of PSE products a store can sell to an individual customer.
There are multiple known processes to convert PSE to methamphetamine, all of which are not complex and do not require specialized equipment; however, many do require readily available but uncommon ingredients. Two of the three most popular processes follow two general processing steps: (1) dissolving the PSE tablets in a solvent to isolate purified PSE and (2) a chemical reduction of the PSE to methamphetamine for drying into crystals. The third method, or the “one-pot” method, involves the direct chemical reduction of the PSE to methamphetamine in the presence of the tablet’s inactive ingredients. All the solvents used are ultimately dried off or otherwise removed so a vast range of solvents are amenable to the process.
Implementation of the CMEA initially reduced the number of illegal methamphetamine laboratory seizures reported by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), as the then most commonly used process for conversion of PSE to methamphetamine required substantial quantities of PSE. However, a newer process for converting PSE to methamphetamine requires less PSE. Possibly as a result of this new conversion process, the DEA reported 2010 clandestine methamphetamine laboratory seizures increased 84% over the low reported in 2007.
IMPEDE® Technology is designed to deter the conversion of PSE to methamphetamine, including by use of both the older and newer conversion processes. In response to the ongoing methamphetamine problem, several local jurisdictions (state, counties and/or local municipalities) have enacted or propose to enact legislation to require a physician’s prescription to obtain a PSE-containing product.