The makers and sellers of over-the-counter cold and allergy medications that contain pseudoephedrine are pushing back in West Virginia against those who want a law requiring a prescription for the popular drugs.

Pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient is making methamphetamine, a highly addictive drug that is widely abused in West Virginia.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) is releasing a statewide survey today showing that 56 percent of West Virginians oppose such a law.  Forty percent support the proposal.  The poll was conducted by Mark Blankenship Enterprises and paid for by CHPA.

The poll also shows that 65 percent of West Virginians say it would be somewhat or very inconvenient to have to get a doctor’s prescription in order to buy Claritin D, Advil Cold and Sinus, or other common over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines.

CHPA President and CEO Scott Melville says the poll results are not surprising.

“The West Virginia findings are consistent with what we’ve seen across the country,” Melvin said in a prepared statement.  “The clear majority of law-abiding consumers oppose the prescription-only approach because it leads to significant economic burdens produced by unnecessary time off work and additional co-pays.”

The pharmaceutical industry and retailers believe they have the public on their side in this fight.  After all, why should you be inconvenienced because of a meth addict?  As one person familiar with the survey told me, the issue is a little like gun control; law abiding citizens want to be left alone.

However, the landscape in the meth/pseudoephedrine debate in West Virginia is changing.

Just this month Governor Tomblin’s Advisory Council on Substance Abuse recommended that Tomblin support legislation making pseudoephedrine-based drugs available only by prescription. The task force voted after hearing from Stanford University professor and West Virginia native Keith Humphries, who has studied the meth problem extensively.

“I’m not promising people won’t use meth (if the state passes the law), but it will get rid of the labs,” Humphreys was quoted in the Charleston Gazette as telling the task force.

And it’s the labs that law enforcement and health officials are most concerned about. Police have busted over 460 meth labs this year.  The highly toxic and explosive home-crafted labs put innocent children at risk of fumes, fire and explosion.  Police must call in special hazmat teams to clean up after a bust.

Not all drug companies and retailers are united with CHPA.  A few are making drugs that are more tamper resistant.  At least two new decongestant products—Zephrex-D and Nexafed—are manufactured to make it more difficult to extract the pseudoephedrine, a point they include in their marketing.

Meanwhile, Rite Aid and Fluth Pharmacies have stopped selling over-the-counter cold and allergy medicine in their West Virginia stores that can be cooked for meth.

In 2011, the state Legislature came within one vote in the Senate of passing a law requiring a script for pseudoephedrine.  We may be looking at another razor close vote on this issue when the 2014 session begins in January.


bubble graphic


bubble graphic


  • Trade Off

    Goebbels makes a good point. Copper is a better ingredient than lead or radiators. So is the ban on OC & pseudoephedrine make heroin a better ingredient?

    • Cookie

      I will never be a meth cooker until I learn how to spell pseudoephedrine let lone how to pronounce it.

  • The bookman

    We can't regulate our way around illicit drug use...the user, the supplier, and the dealer will work tirelessly to maintain their is no different than the gun can pass the regulations and make the hurdles higher than they are presently, but in the end all you have really accomplished is make it more difficult to gain access to a helpful and relatively safe OTC drug while making the acquisition for illicit purposes more dangerous...the production of meth will continue one way or the other.

  • kensgirl

    This is BEYOND ridiculous now. Already it's a huge inconvenience to have to wait in the lengthy line at the pharmacy and produce ID just to get the generic version of the pseudoephedrine. The last time I went to pick it up, the shelves behind the counter were completely cleared of it. I asked the pharmacist, "Are you out of stock, or no longer allowed to sell it at all?" She said for reasons which she could not divulge, they were no longer allowed by the state of WV to display it where it could be seen. So I said, "Does that mean if I ask for it directly you can get it for me, but you're not allowed to voluntarily offer up the fact that you have it?" She confirmed that to be the case. So I directly asked for the exact item I wanted, and she went around to the back to get it. DUMBEST THING EVER!!! We are NOT children!!! STOP treating us at EVERY level of government like we ARE!!!

  • Matt

    Wvtotx nice thought, but asking for morality and a fixing of society is just not realistic. That stuff is gone. This is the new norm. The drugs will always be here, us good law abiding citizens have to just move on. Let druggies be druggies. Moving on.

  • Rick

    This is a great example of over regulation. The current system that requires you to obtain it from behind the pharmacy counter is more than adequate. Similarly, the bill requiring physicians to register as a Pain Clinic and complete a Fellowship in Pain Management if their prescriptive base is greater than 50% of Scheduled II and III meds is also misguided. Legislators DID NOT go to Medical School. The PHYSICIAN is on the line for their prescriptions, and the DEA is ALWAYS why make a Doctor even more skittish to treat malignant or non-malignant pain? In the end - the patients suffer for the actions of a FEW.

    • Pruntytown

      Here it is in a nut-shell. Those who routinely buy Sudafed, and the like, for meth are low on the socioeconomic scale. Thanks to welfare, medicare (SSDI), and now Obamacare they can go to the doctor whenever they like, for free, and get a prescription, for free. This is their full-time job and they take it very seriously. Go to any ER or Primary Care site throughout the state and look around, having to get a prescription has not slowed down OC or other precribed med abuse. Tax-payers and law-abidding citizens will be paying for their drug use either way.

  • TD

    They'll just make it out of kerosene or something else. These people are so intent on being high all the time there's no way to stop them. I think legalizing marijuana would be a step in the right direction. They can grow it themselves. It is not in any way as toxic or damaging as these drugs.

    The drug war is long lost, our prisons are full and billions have been wasted. After close to 50 years, any kind of drug you want is readily available in any town in America. We should push the lesser of evils and let them light up.

    • Grant

      Well said! Our tax dollars are better spent on education, infastructure, and prevention.

    • Joseph Goebbels

      That's right. Make it hard for a moonshiner to obtain copper and he'll use a radiator and lead pipes

  • Trade Off

    We are trading the ban on pseudoephedrine and the reformulating of Oxycontin for heroin. Is this a good trade off? Probably not.

    • Jason412

      So you'd rather have meth, oxys, and heroin available than just heroin? That makes sense. Heroin has to be trafficked from another country into the US and then to WV leaving a lot more points of vulnerbility for interdiction then the guy making meth and selling it in the same town, or the guy carrying an OC script that is legally his and cant be confinscated unless the police catch them making a direct sell.

  • Hillbilly

    I like the direction some companies are going that will make it more difficult to extract. Supposedly the pseudoephedrine disintegrates if they try to extract it. That way it works for people who need it, and does not work for the meth heads who misuse it.

  • GregG

    With the amount of Rx pill abuse in this state, is this really going to cure the problem? These doctors are already handing out Rx for "pain pills" like candy on Halloween. Until we start punishing these drug heads and their suppliers nothing is going to change. Like everything else, it's all about the $$. Big Pharma, doctors, drug stores etc... are not going to take a hit to their profits. That's why they are so against a person growing a few plants in the backyard. A weed can be grown for free and they have no way of making trillions of dollars off of it.

  • Wirerowe

    The drug companies know two things, these drugs destroy our people's lives and even kill our people. Their response is to hire lobbyists, spin doctors, and pollsters. A poll by them is worthless. Hoppy if you allow them on to your show to promote the status quo, then make them tell you how much money they are spending to continue to push their poisons. The current legislation has not and will not work. These drugs are a public health risk and legislation needs to be passed to make them prescription drugs.

    • Kevin

      Agrees,,, the drug companies want it sold and easy to buy,,, let's be honest they are making a fortune from the meth addicts,,

    • Joseph Goebbels

      More a public health risk than alcohol?-- be honest!!

      • Jason412

        Maybe thats why its illegal to manufacture moonshine without proper permits and precautions.

        What risk does Jack Daniels pose to the public meth does not? If you're drinking or high on meth you're still DUI and putting the public at risk. Someone who has been up for a week will definitely be as disoriented as any drunk. The difference is Jack Daniels doesnt require a HazMat team to clean up the litter. I never heard of anyone brewing whiskey in a city park, but I certainly remember when they busted the lab at the Elkins City Park. A lab that was operating in the trash can of a public gazebo not 100 yards from children swinging

        • Joseph Goebbels

          What risks to the public are there associated with Jack Daniels that's not associated with Meth? Well, as yet the Government is not issuing permits and license for a "gathering" place to drive your vehicle to and then use and abuse meth.

          You know the places I'm talking about.

      • Wirerowe

        Accurate bur irrelevant point.

        • Joseph Goebbels

          Not wanting to be offensive or offend you but it is only irrelevant from a hypocritical point of view.

  • Joseph Goebbels

    Yesterday, I heard Kanawha County Commissioner Carper on the radio railing against "the big rich pharmaceutical companies and lobbyist" accusing them of putting profit before and above the general health of the people--- Well, Mr. Commissioner, I do not even have to check the statistics to know AND guarantee you that far more people are killed or die in a years time in your very own county from alcohol related deaths than die a meth related death... So maybe, since you have such a compassion for substance abusers over the wants of the general population, you should move to make Kanawha county DRY... What's that you say Mr. Carper, too much tax revenue will be lost for the county and the state if you were to do that? Do it Mr. Carper, don't be a profit monger-- put your money where your mouth is, reinstate the Volstead Act for your county, Commissioner Carper.

    • Rick

      The fact is - it's the STATE and CHEAP generic painkillers that are the PROBLEM. The STATE does NOT want to pay for better meds that are FAR harder - if even at all - to divert. The STATE resists it at EVERY TURN. EVERY. However, Mylan has their wallet open to EVERY legislator and the immediate release Schedule II, II and IV meds continue to pour out of their facility. Read their prospectus and see what GENERIC manufacturers are doing to combat the will find that it is ramping up the pill assembly line.

  • John Sofranko

    There are other options that work better. Get it, other meds work better.Just use them. This is no big deal. Some people need to get over it.

    • Joseph Goebbels

      Now that, if it proves to be accurate, is something I can live with..

  • Wowbagger

    What if the substitutes don't work? Many pharmaceuticals do not work as intended for significant portions of the population.

    I'm getting quite concerned and more than a little fed up with the developing nanny state of West Virginia! Next Michael Bloomberg will be buying these politicos for what he considers spare change!

    • Wowbagger


      West Virginia politicos are already for sale. I forgot Bloomberg already owns Joe Manchin!

  • Alum

    Why not not require a prescription? I have seasonal allergies that get me for about six weeks twice a year. I cannot get enough OTC product (anti-histamine with pseudophedrine) to get through one month, let alone the full six weeks. The law won't allow it, even with a presciption. At least if a prescription were allowed I could probably get what I need and avoid sinus infections.

    I just love this one size fits all approach - punish those who are innocent because of the pushers. If the politicians really wanted to solve the meth problem they would come up with a punishment suitable for the crime. For example, if convicted of manufacturing meth your appeals will be processed and completed within one year of conviction. All the meth and raw chemicals seized at the time of your arrest are retained. If the appeals are denied the single sentence that can be handed out is administered - you now get to consume by ingestion all of the meth and raw chemicals that were in your possession at the time of your arrest. Harsh? Maybe. But it would give some long pause before they would manufacturer this junk.

  • Jason412

    Sounds very familiar to Purdue Pharma letting oxycontin destroy America for 15 years before they made them tamper proof.

    Law abiding citizens could still buy the tamper resistant "nexafed" or something similar without a prescription so I dont see why anybody, except the companies making millions off supplying precursors to meth cooks, would oppose this

    • Joseph Goebbels

      How many lives and families has Budweiser and Jack Daniels harmed or destroyed?

      • wvtotx

        I so agree. People are all over "big pharma" what about Big Alcohol? Alcohol might not poison a park but in one hit a drunk driver can take out an entire family. Make no mistake I am not advocating for a return of Volstead or a ban on pseudophedrine I am advocating for personal responsibility and a societal change. Cut down on the real root of the problem. All of this stuff is just maintenance, the root of the problem is lack of morality, a welfare/entitlement society and a deep rooted generational belief that people are born poor and always will be poor, that is what keeps West Virginians down. You can ban or make legal every substance there is and it won't change much. Adding laws and making things difficult only seeks to punish hardworking law-abiding people. Drug addicts will make drugs or get them no matter what happens, you must change the reason they are addicts.