Acura testing abuse-resistant decongestant

The Associated Press

PALATINE, Ill. (AP) -- A pharmaceutical company specializing in abuse-resistant medication said testing found its improved version of its decongestant Nexafed is much harder to convert into methamphetamine, the widely abused illegal drug known as crystal meth.

Acura Pharmaceuticals Inc. is developing a "second-generation" formulation of Nexafed. It said Monday that an outside laboratory it hired to test the reformulated decongestant tried to use the standard one-pot conversion process of most clandestine meth producers to generate methamphetamine hydrochloride.

The improved Nexafed tablets did not yield any measurable methamphetamine in initial tests, versus a yield of about 38 percent produced from the older version of the tablets, according to Acura, which is based in Palatine, Ill.

The new Nexafed, a 30-milligram, immediate-release decongestant, has the company's latest technology, called IMPEDE 2.0, which adds two new inactive ingredients to the prior version.

When the tablets are dissolved in solvents normally used to extract methamphetamine, a thick gel forms and traps pseudoephedrine or converted methamphetamine inside. That means they cannot be isolated and purified to make methamphetamine, according to Acura, which plans further testing.

Nexafed currently is sold through drugstores and wholesalers nationwide. Like other prescription and nonprescription sinus, cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine, pharmacies must keep it in a secure location behind the counter, record the identities of purchasers and limit the amount each can buy. Those are requirements imposed under the 2006 Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act.

Methamphetamine, a highly addictive stimulant, is abused by roughly 13 million people at some point in their lives, Acura noted. It added that about half of the $1 billion worth of nonprescription nasal decongestant sold each year contains pseudoephedrine.