CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Chairman of the House Health and Human Resources Committee is promising to again introduce legislation at the State House next year that would require prescriptions for drugs containing pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in meth.
During this year’s legislative session, the House approved the bill, but it died on a tie vote in the Senate following heavy lobbying from drug makers and others.
Delegate Don Perdue (D-19, Wayne) said on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline” he’s expecting similar push back next year.
“We’ve arrived at the point where we know what the problem is. We know what to do to stop it and, yet, the pressures of those entities that want to profit by it are so extreme and extraordinary, we can’t do what should be done,” he said.
On Tuesday, those with the West Virginia Retailers Association lauded the results from the real time, stop sale system called the National Precursor Log Exchange, NPLEx, which was implemented in January.
Current state law limits how much cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine one person can buy in a day, a month and a year. The tracking system flags people who are over their limits.
Association officials said data from the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy showed that electronic tracking blocked illegal sales of 9,900 boxes of drugs with pseudoephedrine that could have been used to make meth.
“This technology is a blessing for those who want to help in the fight against meth production, while protecting law-abiding citizens’ access to medicines they depend on. It is an easy to use system that has measurable positive impacts,” said Bridget Lambert, president of the West Virginia Retailers Association.
“As West Virginia lawmakers debate additional measures to reduce meth-related crime, they should recognize electronic technology’s undeniable success and implement policies that complement and bolster the proven system.”
Perdue said, even with the electronic monitoring system, though, the number of meth lab busts continues to climb.
Last year, the Clandestine Drug Lab Remediation Program reported 271 labs had been discovered in West Virginia compared with 221 labs in 2008.
“It (the tracking) is working in terms of blocking sales, but it’s not working in terms of stopping the meth labs because what happens is, the folks who want the meth hire somebody, they’ll give them $20, to go buy three boxes,” he said. Such buyers are called “smurfs.”
“It’s a legal transaction. That individual probably never bought anymore anywhere else and, yet, it gets converted into methamphetamine.”
West Virginia is one of the 41 states where medications containing pseudophedrine are kept behind the pharmacy counter. Oregon and Mississippi along with some cities in Indiana and Missouri already require prescriptions for the drugs.
The 2013 Regular Legislative Session begins in January.