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DRUGSTORES ACT TO AID METHAMPHETAMINE FIGHT

Three of the nation's largest drugstore chains said Wednesday that they will move certain nonprescription cold and allergy medicines behind pharmacy counters, following a string of retailers that have limited access to drugs whose ingredients can be used to make the illegal drug methamphetamine.

CVS Corp. and Rite Aid Corp. will move medications containing pseudoephedrine behind counters at their stores this summer. A Walgreen Co. spokeswoman said the chain -- the nation's largest by sales -- also plans to move the drugs under a pharmacist's eye but has not yet set a timetable for the change.

Pseudoephedrine, an active ingredient of Pfizer Sudafed and Schering-Plough Corp.'s Claritin-D, can also be used to manufacture methamphetamine, a highly addictive drug. The drugstores' moves mean that customers will need to ask pharmacists for the medications rather than picking them off a store shelf.

"A lot of our stores were already doing this," said Carol Hively, a spokeswoman for the Deerfield-based Walgreen chain. "Now we're going to put it into effect chainwide."