CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Opponents of a proposed prescription requirement for medications containing pseudoephedrine — a main meth ingredient — are working against the bill that would mandate as much at the State Capitol.
Bridget Lambert, president of the West Virginia Retailers Association, said she thinks the legislation will hurt the average sick person who is not breaking the law.
“That is just going to increase the cost of that medicine. It’s going to increase the health care costs in West Virginia, inconvenience hard-working people who will have to take time off from work to get a prescription for this cold medicine and allergy medicine,” Lambert said.
The bill is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee after getting approval from the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee earlier this week.
Supporters of the legislation argued requiring a prescription for the medications would reduce the number of meth labs in West Virginia and help address the growing meth problem in parts of the state. The proposed bill would allow tamper-resistant products, like Nexafed, to be sold from behind the counter without a prescription.
“Meth is a terrible plague in many of our communities and this is an important first step to stop that portion of the drug problem in our state,” said Senate President Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall, 2) who backs the bill.
“In my view, those pushing for the pseudoephedrine (to continue to be sold without prescriptions) are just driven by profit,” he said. “They want to sell 20 and 30 packs of this at a time so they can drive their profits up, but they’re ruining our families, our cities and our communities and it needs to stop.”
Lambert, though, said she thinks attempts to reduce the number of meth labs in West Virginia, which she admitted is a problem, would be much more successful by establishing a meth offender registry, like those created most recently in Oklahoma and Tennessee.
“A meth offender registry identifies the meth criminals and punishes this crime as a meth criminal offense. The meth criminals are the ones that need to be dealt with and need to be treated differently than your average every day citizen in West Virginia,” she said on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
With the registry, convicted offenders would be blocked from making pseudoephedrine purchases or would need prescriptions to buy medications containing pseudoephedrine for a specified period of time.
Already, pharmacy chains like Fruth Pharmacy and Rite-Aid have taken steps to remove some products, containing pseudoephedrine, from the shelves.
At other stores, medicines containing pseudoephedrine are currently available over the counter, but state law limits the quantities one person can buy within certain established time frames. Those purchases are tracked, in real time, through the NPLEx system, the National Precursor Log Exchange.