Boynton cold tablets missing

by K.C. Howard

University police are investigating the disappearance of thousands of cold tablets from a Boynton Health Service’s closet that could be used to make methamphetamine.

Thirty-four boxes, containing 3,400 decongestive tablets called pseudoephedrine, were found missing from a locked storage closet on the second floor of the hospital last week, according to the police report.

“We’re trying to figure out how they got in the room,” said University police Sgt. Troy Buhta. He said there were no signs of forced entry, and several people had keys to the room.

Boynton Health Educator David Dorman said the tablets of pseudoephedrine were meant for a student health advocacy program but said the drug could be converted easily into an addictive stimulant.

Known as chalk, ice, crank, speed or glass, methamphetamines can be made by following directions posted on the Internet.

“It’s actually quite simple chemistry,” said Dr. Yusuf Abul-Hajj, head of the medicinal pharmacy department. “Someone with a master’s degree can easily make this compound. It’s possible that someone with a bachelor’s degree, who has done some research in a lab, would be able to do it, too.”

Pseudoephederine is two reactions away from methamphetamine, Abul-Hajj said.

“What they need is a solvent and glassware. I think that would be sufficient,” he said.

Buhta said police are questioning employees but have no suspects.

“They do a pretty good job of security at Boynton. I can’t see this being a constant problem with that pharmacy,” Buhta said.

The 3,400 stolen tablets of pseudoephederine could produce 56 to 85 grams of methamphetamine, said Minneapolis Police Officer Peter Rud of the narcotics unit.

Rud said a two-person dose is less than a gram, and the users would “stay up for three days.”

In other police news:

Minneapolis firefighters responded to a fire alarm in a Pioneer Hall dormitory room Friday.

A burning sock in a trash can set off the alarm, according to the police report.

Firefighters then questioned an 18-year-old freshman living in the room and said they smelled alcohol on his breath.

A breathalyzer test determined the man had a blood-alcohol level of .143.

The student was cited for underage drinking. Firefighters did not report any damage to the room.