ALLEGAN, MICH. - There are major developments in the fight against meth.
On Friday, Perrigo executives told us the company is expanding a relatively new cold medication called Zephrex D with technology that blocks the ability to extract Methamphetamine.
Perrigo recently bought the product and technology from a smaller St. Louis-based pharmaceutical company, Highland Pharmaceuticals.
The changing colors and the fresh smell made for a beautiful fall day in downtown Allegan on Friday. However, Patrick Hoekstra too often deals with an uglier side of the community.
"Methamphetamine is a tragic event," says Hoekstra, a therapist at Pathways for Allegan County's meth diversion program.
"When it (meth materials) explodes it catches their hands on fire, catches their arms on fire," says Hoekstra.
The meth diversion program allows non-violent offenders to avoid long prison terms if they work hard to change.
"Many people feel like they've hit the lottery when they get this program just because it gives them such a new chance at life," says Hoekstra.
While Hoekstra works on solving problems with people, the local drug-maker, Perrigo, is taking new steps with drug interactions.
"Our investment in Tarex is an example of our commitment to the issue," says Jeff Needham, Vice President of Consumer Healthcare Business for Perrigo.
Perrigo's new purchase means they can expand distribution of Tarex technology. It's used in a recently-developed cold medication called Zephrex D, which also contains psuedophedrine. That's a key ingredient in meth-making.
"(It) makes the extraction of pseudophedrine from the product, the active ingredient, more difficult for someone who trying to make illegal drugs," says Needham.
Needham says right now the Zephrex D and Tarex are being manufactured by a third party, but the goal is to eventually have them made in Allegan County.
"Our intent is ultimately these products will be manufactured by Perrigo," says Needham.
He says Zephrex D is not meant to replace psuedophed which the company continues to fund safeguards for.
"We're making sure there's close monitoring and regulation of our current products," says Needham.
Needham says you will find their new product in more major retail stores any day now.
Hoekstra says he supports anything that helps prevent people from getting involved with meth.
"I would prefer for all of us to be out of a job, because then we wouldn't have a substance abuse problem," says Hoekstra.
Allegan County has historically had one of the highest number of meth cases in Michigan, according to local law enforcement. However, new numbers show a downward trend.
According to the drug task force, WEMET, there has been a total of 31 meth-related investigations this year, compared to 49 last year. They say Kalamazoo County has more than 100 cases in 2016.
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