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.


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  • Peter

    At my son can get a 90 day perscription for Amphetamine Salt (ADDERALL) but I need to go to the store every 10 days for sudafed. Wow, it is so much more convenient for me.

  • yep

    I hope they ban the over the counter sale of pseudoephedrine type products that can be used to make meth or at least limit the sale amount/person and make them register as a buyer. The benefit outweighs any perceived cost. People don't need this drug to live, just to combat some sniffles. It's overdue.

    • BooBaLa

      Yes, make everyone suffer for the 3 people who are manufacturing meth.

  • Neal

    What's the point of prescription laws if we don't use them to protect people from addiction? If pseudoephedrine doesn't qualify for a prescription law based on what meth makers are doing with it now then I don't know what does qualify. For those who don't think it should have a prescription law then maybe we should just abandon all prescription laws! Druggies will be druggies, right? Just because you are used to having the convenience of buying pseudoephedrine OTC doesn't mean you are entitled to it. People have learned how to turn it into an addictive drug, which is rotting our society right now. Like I said, if that doesn't warrant a law, I don't know what does. Once pharma companies learn how to manufacture a drug that eliminates the possibility of cooking meth then we can ease the restriction.

    • The bookman

      Then why not restrict the purchase of lithium batteries and drain cleaner? When will we stop accepting the imposition of increased regulation in our life due to the poor decisions of others in their life...OTC formulations of PSE are safe for use when properly following the directions on the is a useful and helpful medication in its present form and should not be subject to any additional regulation...the purpose of a prescription is to authorize a patient's use of a potent drug that may be harmful while under a doctor's care...not to protect society from the unlawful use of that same drug...

      • Neal

        Even though you just made up that definition of a prescription drug, let's say you're correct and it's only for 'potent' drugs. The meth drug that is being cooked by these people is very potent and highly addictive. Like I said it's rotting our society right now. There was a quote in one of the Metronews articles from the Brazilian company that is considering building the cracker plant in Wood county where they said one of their biggest concerns was finding enough drug-free people to fill the work requirements. I've heard employers say that as many as 7out of 10 applicants for jobs in WV fail the pre employment drug screen. But hey, if it inconveniences you in any way, let's get rid of all prescription laws.

        • The bookman

          an instruction written by a medical practitioner that authorizes a patient to be provided a medicine or treatment.
          "he scribbled a prescription for tranquilizers"
          synonyms: instruction, authorization; More

          This the definition provided by google Dictionary...are you saying I made it up while working for google? Think not! It isn't an inconvenience to me as I just use cold remedies that do not contain PSE! I am not for additional regulations for safe medications as a method to safeguard the public from illicit behavior...a prescription should not be a tool of public safety...what will be next? It's all about precedent...continuing down a road where government solves our problems only makes our problems worse...

  • Bibi

    And the really sad part of all your comments is, you are all just eating out of Big Pharm's hand. As much of 80% of their product is being sold to meth producers. They are making a direct profit from the meth dealers. Big Pharm makes Big Government look like a puppet because it is: Government's strings are being pulled by all the $$ that the drug companies are pouring into their campaigns.Which means that their campaigns are being funded by METH. Nice, huh?

  • Bibi

    The only thing those medicines are useful for are MAKING METH. Ask almost any doctor. Mine laughed when I asked him if he would prescribe them. He said, no. They raise blood pressure and cause refluxive congestion and make people too hyper when they should be resting! At any rate, Zephrex and Nexafed do exactly the same thing, with exactly the same ingredients, and will be exempt from the law so who's losing? Oh right, the drug companies, where 80% of the profit they're making is from METH.

    • The bookman

      The new meth resistant formulations do not stop meth producers who are using the "one pot method" of producing meth from PSE...Nexafed and Zephrex only yield half the meth that equivalent Sudafed would yield, only meaning the cook will need twice as much...these new formulas only stop the cook when using a large lab method for production...ask any local law enforcement officer what they are finding as the predominant method one pot method! No easy answer for the same old the new formulations will only lead to the cook recruiting eight buyers of Nexafed whereas before they needed 4... Twice as much product...more sales for big that what you wanted to hear?

      • The bookman

        This is the link to the Nexafed information quoted in the above

        • Bibi

          I can't find that quote, and here's a direct quote from the Nexafed site:
          Unlike other pseudoephedrine HCl products, Nexafed utilizes Acura’s Impede technology, a unique polymer matrix that incorporates inactive ingredients to form a thick gel that disrupts the extraction and conversion of pseudoephedrine to methamphetamine.1

  • mntnman

    People like to take drugs. They feel good, they fill a hole in their lives, whatever. We have proven that we cannot stop drug use. Based on what I see, we can't even slow it down.

    So now, the most recent nonsensical solution is to make me go to the doctor to get an effective OTC medicine if I have a cold. Really? That's the best you got? Come on government, you can do better. Well, maybe not.

    In the meantime, leave me alone. I am not doing anything illegal, and I don't want to have to go to the doctor to be told, yeah, you have a cold, get the OTC sudafed. Pay your $25 co-pay and have a nice day. Really? That's where we're at now?

    • Bibi

      You know what? You might feel differently if the apartment next to you turned out to be a meth lab and your building was condemned and you were left homeless through no fault of your own. This is what's happening. How about that meth lab in the abandoned car in the lot across the street? Or how about the one within a stone's throw of your kid's playground? You don't NEED a prescription for Nexafed or Zephrex and they do exactly the same thing if you really need that crap, that is. Human beings are also huge babies when it comes to colds. Wash your hands, and if you get a cold, take some tylenol and blow your nose.

      • mntnman

        Actually, a few years back, we had an apt building a stones throw from my house burn -- meth lab caught fire. It was a nuisance, but I still don't want to pay a doctor to get an OTC medicine. But that's just me.

      • Hillboy

        Another issue that is not discussed much is that meth labs create a lot of toxic by-products. Houses that were once meth labs are toxic waste sites unless they are cleaned up by professionals, which does not always happen. People are buying up foreclosed houses without always knowing they were once meth labs and then wonder why their kids are sick. Some people rent motel rooms to cook meth and they may or may not be adequately cleaned afterwards.

    • MoMoney

      Co-pays don't kick in until you meet a $2,500.00 deductible. The $125.00 fee for a Dr. office visit comes out of your own pocket. Now with ObamaCare, the deductible can goes as high as $10,000.00. Now that is quality affordable health care. Not.

      • mntnman

        You are mistaken. A co-pay is paid at the time of the visit. Insurance picks up the rest. That's how co-pays work. And I don't have a $2500 deductible.

        As for the $10,000 deductible under the ACA, that is a choice you can make -- it is NOT mandatory. For a young, healthy person, a high deductible makes sense. Its cheaper insurance. So perhaps they would choose that. I would recommend it to my healthy son and daughter. They rarely go to the doctor. But they do need coverage for catastrophic care.

        Need to think all this through instead of being knee-jerk reactionary. The ACA has problems, far too many. We don't need to make them up.

      • vashti

        now that is a bunch of misinformation mo money

  • Chuck Anziulewicz

    Another common ingredient used in the manufacture of methamphetamine is red phosphorus. Where does one get red phosphorus? From the tips of paper matches!

    Have you every been in a store and seen someone purchasing as many packages of paper matchbooks as possible? Trust me, they aren't using those matches to light their cigarettes. They ARE being used in meth labs. If the sale of paper matchbooks was banned in West Virginia, meth production would PLUMMET.

    • Bibi

      The fact is, you can't make meth WITHOUT pseudoephedrine. You can get red phosphorus from other sources, like fuses from fireworks and rat poison (nice huh). PSE is only legally available from ONE SOURCE: COLD MEDICINES. And it can't be substituted with anything else. All these medicines were formerly prescription only; how much do you want to bet that you can correlate them being deregulated to the increase in shake and bake labs? You can't really say the same thing about matchbooks.

  • MoMoney

    There is always "collateral damage" in wars. And the War on Drugs is no different. The innocents always get blasted. Just like in this case.
    Time to take the war to the ones who are breaking the law. Only enhanced prison sentences will stop the meth making. Time to put these habitual criminals to death. The meth makers and cookers should be put to the most painful death imaginable. No more coddling of the criminals like the liberals like to do. This is the ONLY way to stop the poison from coming into WV. Time for the politicians to wake up and see what exactly this underground drug culture is doing to our society as a whole. It is tearing apart our society at the seams, and no one can do anything about it.

  • Jeff

    I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I agree on this subject with the drug companies! I was fine with them limiting purchases of the drug. It was an inconvience but I kind of understood when you had to get it from the oharmacy. Now they want a prescription?!? There is no way. It is now easier to buy actual methamphetamines in West Virhinia than it is Advil Cold and Sinus! That's when you know you've gone too far !

  • Shadow

    The one thing that we can be certain of is that the Legislature will "Punish the Innocent". One of the best examples of this form of government is the card check of people buying alcohol and cigarettes. The clerk has to ask you that no matter how old you are. Such a waste of the customer's and store owner's time. PUNISH the guilty and if the offender is underage, do his/her parents also as they are contributors. This is another of those "feel good" laws which are easy to write and avoids the difficult.

  • Jesse's girl

    Ephedra is an ancient primitive genus of shrubby plants in the gymnosperms (pines, etc.) and is of great interest to botanists as it forms a linking group between conifers and flowering plants. There are some 40 species in dry climates of North and South America, Europe, north Africa, and southwest and central Asia. It prefers sandy soils and direct sun.

    They are small, nearly leafless, perennial green shrubs whose young stems and branches are used to extract the medicinal alkaloids. Ephedra can withstand frost and has low water requirements, but does need quite a bit of light. Native species occur in the high deserts of AZ and CO and are very frost hardy.

    Although I have never publically said any of this before, I have realized that meth producers would have thought of it long before a botanist. One WV State Senator who told me last summer that authorities had already found one “Ephedra farm.” A brief perusal of the internet turned up many “helpful” sites for potential Ephedra growers.

    Perhaps the answer is not to punish the law abiding citizens, but rather to begin making illicit drug use of any sort unacceptable in society once again. Perhaps it is time to make children feel that human life IS more important than an amoeba or earth worm. Perhaps they need to be made to feel valuable and not just an escapee from the abortionist. Perhaps it is time to throw out the left’s harping on the evils of man (themselves excepted, of course) and once more celebrate life and give people a future and hope. After decades of the consequences of public “education” indoctrinating children with how rotten we are, how rotten this country is, how rotten the Founding Fathers were and that we are the cause of all the planetary ills (hoaxes all), here we are. We simply deal with “cause and effect” and a society unwilling to impose or practice discipline. Spare me the gutless excuse that we cannot go back. History is replete with “going back.

    • Hillboy

      I'm going to assume that you haven't had a child in school for quite some time because I don't see any of that stuff being taught in my son's classes. They do get plenty of don't use drug talks so, if it makes you feel any better, that's being covered.

  • Meth

    I will never become a meth cooker until I learn how to spell or pronounce pseudoephedrine.

  • 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.