CHARLESTON - Sales of pseudoephedrine at Rite Aid's stores in West Virginia are being investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The cold medication ingredient also is illegally used to manufacture methamphetamine.
The DEA in November requested Rite Aid pseudoephedrine sales data dating back to 2006 from the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy.
"They asked for historical data. It was a lot of information," Mike Goff, a pharmacy board administrator who oversees the state's controlled-substance monitoring program, said. "They apparently found some questionable Sudafed sales."
Rite Aid is aware of the investigation and is cooperating, company spokeswoman Ashley Flower said.
Following a report that the pharmacy chain was among the top sellers of pseudoephedrine in the state, Rite Aid announced in November that its West Virginia stores had stopped selling cold medications that have pseudoephedrine as their only active ingredient. The company continues to sell cold medicines in West Virginia that combine pseudoephedrine and other ingredients.
Rite Aid stores also now limit customers' pseudoephedrine purchases to one box per visit.
"Rite Aid takes the sale of products containing pseudoephedrine seriously," Flower said. "We are committed to taking appropriate action to help address the methamphetamine problem in West Virginia."
Electronic tracking data show that a Rite Aid store in Charleston's Kanawha City neighborhood has sold more than 7,000 boxes of pseudoephedrine this year, the second-highest total in the state.
A store in South Charleston has sold more than 6,000 boxes, the fourth-highest total. Two other stores in Belle and Charleston also were among the top 10 sellers, while a store in Cross Lanes had the 11th-highest total.
Rite Aid's 104 stores in the state have sold a total 123,500 boxes of pseudoephedrine this year, the highest in the state. The second-highest total was 104,000 boxes sold by Walmart's 37 stores in the state.
Agents with the DEA did not say what they are investigating, said David Potters, executive director of the state pharmacy board.
"I knew the DEA was looking for some things," Potters said, "but I don't know what they're specifically looking for."
A DEA spokesman provided no information about the investigation.